Pregnancy and baby delivery complications are associated with increased risk of schizophrenia

Recent studies have indicated that children who born to mothers who have had "complications" during the pregnancy or during the delivery are at increased risk of schizophrenia. Obstetrical complications which are significantly associated with schizophrenia are bleeding, diabetes, prematurity, fetal growth retardation, Rhesus incompatibility, preeclampsia and congenital malformations. In some studies subjects with onset of schizophrenia before age 22 had more often a history of acute fetal distress (abnormal presentation at birth and complicated cesarean delivery). Obstetrical complications may have a direct negative impact on fetal brain development.

Action: To reduce their children's risk, mothers may want to make extra efforts to avoid any possible delivery complications. The best way to do this is to get early and regular pre-natal care, and to be in the best possible hospital environment in case complications do occur. Some experts are recommending that schizophrenia-prone mothers get a C-section to avoid a higher-risk regular delivery -- however other experts have more recently suggested the opposite - so there is no clear answer in this area as far as we can tell. Print out these pages and discuss them with your doctor if they are a concern.

One recent study suggested that drinking pomegranate juice during pregnancy can help reduce fetal stress from low oxygen and decreased blood flow, both of which can result from obstetric complications. Another recent study preliminarily suggested that nitrous oxide treatment to low-weight babies can help increase oxygen circulation, which can reduce brain cell damage.

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