Background. Morphometry, the measurement of forms, is
ancient practice. In particular,
schizophrenic somatology was popular early in this century, but has
been essentially absent from
the literature for over 30 years. More recently, evidence has grown to
support the notion that
aberrant neurodevelopment may play a role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
Is the body,
like the brain, affected by abnormal development in these patients?
Methods. To evaluate global deficit in development and
its relationship to pre-morbid function,
height was compared in a large group (N=226) of male
schizophrenics and a group of healthy male
controls (N=142) equivalent in parental socio-economic status.
in the lower quartile of
height were compared to those in the upper quartile of height.
Results. The patient group had a mean height of 177·1
which was significantly shorter than the
mean height of the control group of 179·4 (P<0·003).
Those in the lower quartile had significantly
poorer pre-morbid function as measured by: (1) psychosocial adjustment
using the pre-morbid
adjustment scales for childhood and adolescence/young adulthood, and
(2) cognitive function using
measures of school performance such as grades and need for special
education. In addition, these
measures of pre-morbid function correlated significantly with height
when analysed using the entire sample.
Conclusions. These findings provide further support to the
idea that abnormal development may
play a key role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Furthermore, this
is manifested as a
global deficit in growth and function resulting in smaller stature,
poorer social skills, and deficits in cognitive abilities.