September 01, 2005

Social Adversity during Childhood increases Schizophrenia Risk

A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that "social adversity" during childhood increases risk of later developing schizophrenia as an adult.

The study reports that:

There is conflicting evidence concerning the association of social childhood factors and subsequent psychosis. Previous studies have had inadequate designs. The aim of the present study was to describe a broad range of social factors during childhood and the risk of developing psychosis later in life in a national cohort.

The study included looking at all children born in Sweden in 1963–1983—2.1 million persons—in family households participating in the national census of 1970, 1980, 1985, or 1990.

Social adversity was measured by what the study designers called "Hazard ratios" that were estimated for five different indicators of socioeconomic position (living in rented apartments, low socioeconomic status, single-parent households, unemployment, and households receiving social welfare benefits) from hospital admissions for schizophrenia and other psychoses during 1987–2002.

The study found that the more social adversity "harzard ratios" that a person experienced, the more likely they were to develop schizophrenia later in life.

The researchers concluded that: "The results indicate that social adversity in childhood and fetal life is independently associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses later in life. The risks increased with an increasing number of exposures, suggesting a dose-response relationship."

Source: Social Adversity in Childhood and the Risk of Developing Psychosis: A National Cohort Study


I have paranoid schizophrenia and have wondered if repeated childhood trauma like those mentioned in the article could have been precursors for developing this illness. Also I was a chronic daydreamer, and wondered if that could have contributed to my developing the illness. Interesting article, thank you.

Posted by: Krista at September 8, 2005 08:06 PM

My son is 15. He has been seeing "ghosts" in our house for about a year now. They have started whispering and now they are bumping him. He is truly scared of them. He has started smoking once in a while from stress and has really stoppoed socializing with friends. He has always had a very hard time in school doing what I would percieve as basic work (reports, etc) Is he exhibiting signs that should be further explored?

Posted by: hollie at October 16, 2005 06:33 AM

I have a friend with diagnosed schizo-affective disorder. He was about 25 at the time of diagnosis. He was raised in a well to do home, with doting parents.

He had a life altering experience in his early 20's-Traumatic enough where he slit his wrists. After that, he was never "the same.." --

He's a bit unusual compared to most schizophrenics, in that he enjoys being out in public, socializing..and keeps up very well with hygiene..

Am wondering if just one very traumatic event can ignite full blown schizophrenia..

Thank You..

Posted by: Sue at November 4, 2005 11:52 PM

i am doing a report on wether childhood trauma is a major cause of multiple personality disorder or schizophrenia if you have any info e-mail it to me at

Posted by: jordan at May 5, 2006 08:57 AM

i fear i have Disorganized schizophrenia, i do not know what to do, i am a resident of Australia, i am embarresed about seeing someone. What do i have to do??????

Posted by: dan at June 22, 2006 07:22 PM

kindly i need this article

Posted by: noreen at December 26, 2006 01:41 AM

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