Which risk factors are associated with schizophrenia?

Many disorders are the result of interaction between genetic and environmental influences. One example is cardiovascular disease; people with a family history of cardiovascular disease are more susceptible to heart problems, and environmental influences such as poor diet can increase this risk. Schizophrenia is also a complex disorder that can arise from both genetic and environmental influences, although genetic factors contribute a much greater risk than environmental factors with a heritability estimate of 80%.

We have not included detailed information on genetic risk factors in the Library due to the availability of these details on a website specifically about genetics in schizophrenia (see; www.szgene.org).

Several environmental risk factors have been identified as increasing the risk for schizophrenia, these include:

  • Recreational cannabis use, particularly in childhood or adolescence.
  • Exposure to obstetric complications in utero or at birth, including maternal diabetes, emergency caesarean section, congenital malformations, or low birth weight <2000g.
  • Exposure to severe childhood adversities, and poor family relationships.
  • Being an immigrant, either first or second generation, particularly from a developing country coming to a developed country and living in an area with low ethnic minority density.
  • Exposure to childhood central nervous system viral infections.
  • Having an older father (over 50) at birth.

April 2019

Last updated at: 10:38 pm, 9th April 2019

NeuRA Libraries

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