The James Young Simpson Legacy, 4-6 September 1997, Edinburgh. Abstracts Of Selected Free Papers
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 relation remains controversial.
The Information and Statistics Division of the Scottish Health Services possesses comprehensive records, on magnetic tape, covering all psychiatric hospital admissions and all hospital deliveries in Scotland since 1971. This database made it possible to identify the obstetric records of people born in 1971-1974 who were subsequently admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and then to compare their standardized obstetric records with those of controls matched for maternal age and parity, paternal occupation, sex and time and place of birth.
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 vs. 2) and of infants detained in hospital for neonatal care (18 vs. 6).
The raised incidence of obstetric complications often reported in schizophrenics is genuine and probably contributes to the aetiology of the condition. Brain damage secondary to foetal anoxia is the likely mechanism.