BACKGROUND There have been many reports of a higher incidence of 'obstetric complications' in the histories of schizophrenics than of controls, but because of the methodological shortcomings of most of these comparisons the relationship remains controversial.
METHOD Comprehensive records covering all psychiatric hospital admissions and all hospital deliveries in Scotland since 1971 made it possible to identify the obstetric records of people born in 1971-74 who were subsequently admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and then to compare their standardised obstetric records with those of closely matched controls.
RESULTS One hundred and fifteen schizophrenic/control pairs were compared. The former showed a highly significant (P < 0.001) excess of complications of both pregnancy and delivery. In particular, there was a significant excess of pre-eclampsia (10 v. 2) and of infants detained in hospital for neonatal care (18 v. 6).
CONCLUSION The raised incidence of obstetric complications often reported in people with schizophrenia is genuine and probably contributes to the aetiology of the condition.