Neonatal and prenatal complications have been shown to occur with greater statistical frequency in persons with schizophrenia than controls. This paper provides an overview of literature relevant to this topic. Neonatal and prenatal complications related to schizophrenia are broken down into four general areas of research: family history, gestational insults, obstetric complications, and neurodevelopmental deficits. Although this research is moving forward, prospective studies have only recently been established; therefore, investigators have been hindered by the difficulties related to retroactive data assessment. This paper reveals some of the areas in which conflicting research has resulted and the attempts researchers have made to overcome these conflicts. In addition, the recent hypothesis of three etiological subgroups of schizophrenia is discussed, as well as areas of research leading from this data.
Prenatal and Neonatal Complications in the Etiology of Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by an interrelation of signs and symptoms accompanied by social or occupational impairment. This disorder consists of a spectrum of dysfunction pervading thought, perception, communication, affect, and behavior. Persons with schizophrenia experience a sorted combination of symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and/or seriously disorganized or catatonic behavior. Negative symptoms, such as decreased emotional expression, communication, or motivation, may also be exhibited. Two of the above symptoms are generally necessary to meet criteria for a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia, along with considerations of illness severity and duration, social or occupational impairment, and other possible diagnoses (American Psychological Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 1994).
Studies have indicated that prenatal and neonatal complications occur with greater statistical frequency in the births of persons with schizophrenia than controls (Kendell, Juszczak, and Cole, 1996).