Poor Intrauterine Nutrition Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia

The Physicians Committee

Poor Intrauterine Nutrition Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia

August 2, 2005

Infants exposed to inadequate nutrition during intrauterine growth are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia in later life, compared to other individuals, according to researchers in Shanghai reporting in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Studying individuals born during the 1959-1961 Chinese famine, the researchers replicated the findings of research on the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945, in which individuals conceived during the famine and born to malnourished mothers had double the risk of schizophrenia.

Although schizophrenia has a genetic component—monozygotic twin concordance rates approach 50 percent--there are also environmental contributors, including maternal nutrition.

St. Clair D, Xu M, Wang P, et al. Rates of adult schizophrenia following prenatal exposure to the Chinese famine of 1959-1961. JAMA. 2005;294:557-562.

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