Birth Complications and Hypoxia Associated with Increased Risk of Schizophrenia

A new study published in the November 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry concludes that complications during pregnancy and birth hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen to the baby’s brain which can result from delays in delivery, are associated with an increased risk for schizophrenia. The study specifically finds that people who later develop schizophrenia are more likely to have decreased levels of neuroprotective protein – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an indicator of fetal distress resulting from birth hypoxia. The study’s authors are hopeful that their findings, which will require further testing, may someday lead to preventative intervention and at-birth identification of individuals at high-risk of developing the condition.

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