Stressed Moms Increase Baby's Risk of Schizophrenia

Feb 08, 2008

Women who feel severely stressed at early stage are at risk of having a baby developing a schizophrenia disorder, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Manchester analyzed data from 1,38 million babies born in Denmark between 1973 and 1995 and came to a conclusion that women who underwent stress due to the loss of a relative during a first trimester of pregnancy had as much as 67% increased risk of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Previous studies showed that mothers-to-be stress during pregnancy was linked to low birth weight and premature birth of a baby. In other researchers it was suggested that defects in brain structure and its functioning appear early in pregnancy, which may lead to such mental disorders as schizophrenia. These findings prove the fact that mother's psychological state has a great impact on unborn baby especially at an early stage of pregnancy.

Scientists say that though schizophrenia is triggered by other factors like genetic ones, environment in the womb can have a great impact on the development of the fetus and have long-term effects. During the first trimester of the pregnancy the protective barriers between mother and child is weak and this may lead to serious problems. However, experts say not to over-worry as the risk is quite small.

The study was published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.