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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2000 December;41(4):241-50


language: Italian

The etiopathogenetic role of obstetric complications in schizophrenia

Beni M. C., Amore M., Balista C., Ferroni O., Tonelli G., Ferrari G.


The relationship between Obstetric Complications (OCs) and schizophrenia have been evaluated by retrospective and prospective studies and studies on monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia. It has been hypothesised that, considering schizophrenia as a multifactorial pathology, OCs could be one of the factors interfering with the development of Central Nervous System (CNS) and provoking an early cerebral injury predisposing to a form of schizophrenia called neurodevelopmental schizophrenia. The OCs action may be ischemic-anoxic and can damage, during pre- or perinatal period, the normal development of CNS. Moreover, in several studies OCs have been related to CNS morphological abnormalities (enlargement of cerebral ventricles, reduction of cerebral cortex volume, and reduction of hippocampal and amygdala) by means of brain imaging techniques in a subgroup of schizophrenic patients. Neurodevelopmental schizophrenia can be considered a subtype of the illness. In fact, it is clinically characterised by premorbid schizoid personality traits, premorbid poor social adjustment, early age of onset, negative symptoms, poor outcome and prevalence in male patients. According to some hypothesis, OCs could be an environmental pathogenic factor per se or be decisive in genetically predisposed patients, made more vulnerable to OCs by the same genetic predisposition; more likely, they could induce a series of etiologically significant events for a subgroup of schizophrenic patients.

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