November 13, 2004

Risk of SZ Linked to Pre-Natal Aspirin Use

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

A new study out of the University of Copenhagen suggests that moms-to-be who take painkillers such as aspirin or paracetamol while pregnant may be putting their babies at risk.

Dr. Erik Mortensen of the Psychology Dept and his team analyzed the birth records of 7,999 babies born between Oct 1959 and Dec 1961. Out of all, 116 were later diagnosed with schizophrenia as adults, and about 140 were exposed to painkillers during the second trimester of pregnancy.

The team concluded that pre-natal painkiller exposure can raise the risk of mental illness by a factor of four. Exposure during the first and third trimesters, however, appear to have no effect.

"In light of these findings, if a pregnant woman can go without using painkillers, it would be a good idea to do so," said Dr. Erik Mortensen.
One possible reason for the increased risk may be chemical-induced damage to the cortical suplate during fetal development.

The results of this study are particularly interesting, given the recent links identified between schizophrenia risk and influenza in pregnant women. Part of the risk may be due to the increased tendency of women to take painkillers and other medications when they are sick.

For the news story, see "Mothers-to-be warned to stay off painkillers", Oct 31 2004. Available online from News.telegraph (

To see the research study online, go to "Association between prenatal exposure to analgesics and risk of schizophrenia" (Nov 2004). Available at

Read about the possible link between prenatal flu exposure and schizophrenia risk, in the Aug 9 2004 newsblog entry on


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