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Unwantedness of a Pregnancy and Schizophrenia in the Child

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Antero Myhrman
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health Science and General Practice, University of Oulu, Finland
Paula Rantakallio
Affiliation:
Department of Public Health Science and General Practice, University of Oulu, Finland
Matti Isohanni
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Finland
Peter Jones
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, UK
Ursula Partanen
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Finland

Abstract

Background

Maternal stress during pregnancy has been suggested as a risk factor for schizophrenia We tested the hypothesis that being the child of an unwanted pregnancy would be associated with later schizophrenia.

Methods

Data were collected prospectively in the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort of 11 017 individuals. In the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy mothers were asked whether the pregnancy was wanted, mistimed but wanted or unwanted. Schizophrenia diagnoses in the cohort members were obtained from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register.

Results

Seventy-six cases of DSM–III–R schizophrenia were identified in the whole cohort between the ages of 16 and 28 years; a cumulative incidence of 0.7%, compared with 1.5% for those bom from unwanted pregnancies. The risk of later schizophrenia among unwanted children was raised compared with wanted or mistimed children, even after adjustment for confounding by sociodemographic, pregnancy and perinatal variables (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.2–4.8).

Conclusions

The results suggest that unwantedness may operate either directly as a psychosocial stress during development making children more liable to schizophrenia or it may be a marker for behaviours associated with risk in either the mother or the child.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1996 

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