August 25, 2005

Childhood Growth=Schizophrenia Risk?

In a recent research study childhood growth rates in children who have mothers with either schizophrenia or a schizoaffective spectrum disorder was analyzed to see if it had any relation to developing schizophrenia. They were compared with those who were born to mentally healthy mothers. 114 children who had parents with schizophrenia and 53 control children were examined in this study.

The 114 who were considered to be at "high-risk" for developing schizophrenia were both shorter and lighter at birth than the control children. The height difference was statistically significant at birth for the girls. The girls that were at high-risk for psychosis eventually caught up in height with the controls at the age of 7 years old.

The boys who were at high risk also were shorter and lighter, but not by as much a degree as the girls. Although the difference in height increased with age and finally was statistically significant when they turned 10 years old. After controlling for many independent factors such as gender and social class, the researchers found that height, weight, and body mass index did not have a correlation with and increased risk of developing schizophrenia.

However, "the combination of being in the lowest tertile for ponderal index at birth but in the highest tertile for body mass index at 7 years of age predicted later development of schizophrenia, with an odds ratio of 22.8" (, 2005). Essentially "catch up growth" may be negative for the children of mothers suffering from different psychotic disorders. This does not mean that it is necessarily an independent risk factor, but rather that it may be correlated with another risk factor. This needs further study before any serious conclusions can be made.

Original Source: Some aspects of childhood growth may be schizophrenia risk factors. June 7, 2005.

This research study was originally published in Schizophr Res 2005; 76: 105–112.


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