This is a blog for the Mental Health Policy Class at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

November 29, 2007

Schizophrenia Risk May Start in Womb

Over the past several decades, a steady stream of studies has documented that people born in winter and spring have an increased risk for schizophrenia, a serious mental illness characterized by disordered thinking, hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.
Explanations for the increased risk have ranged from the astrological -- different signs of the zodiac have been associated with various mental problems -- to accounts that suggested the risk came from seasonal variations in sunlight.
In recent months and years, scientists have developed a different explanation: Studies show the increased risk of schizophrenia appears linked to maternal infections during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy -- especially flu infections. Since the flu peaks in the fall, this might explain why babies born in the winter and spring have the higher risk.

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