Schizophrenia in people with intellectual disability: the role of pregnancy and birth complications.J Intellect Disabil Res 1997; 41 ( Pt 3):238-51JI
The literature suggests that mental illness is more common in people with intellectual disability than in the general population. Having reviewed the literature, Turner (1989) [Psychological Medicine 19, 301-14] suggested that about 3% of people with intellectual disability also have schizophrenia. As pregnancy and birth complications (PBCs) occur more commonly in people with intellectual disability than in the general population and are also implicated in the aetiology of schizophrenia, it is possible that these conditions share a common aetiology. This study reports on the occurrence of PBCs in those people with intellectual disability who develop schizophrenia. Fifty people with intellectual disability and schizophrenia were matched for age, sex, degree of intellectual disability and presence of epilepsy with a control group who did not suffer from schizophrenia or a schizophreniform psychosis. The obstetric history was obtained and events rated on a scale specifically designed for this study. This PBCs scale consists of six sub-scales covering areas of general maternal health, pregnancy, delivery, medication in labour, total medication score and neonatal score, as well as an overall total score. The study found that people with intellectual disability who develop schizophrenia have significantly higher rates of PBCs than controls. All of the sub-scales on the PBCs scale were significantly higher in people with schizophrenia, with the exception of the medication scales. Only five out of the 50 people with schizophrenia had not had a major obstetric complication, compared to 13 subjects from the control group. A number of abnormalities were specifically higher in people who later developed schizophrenia. These included: abnormally long or short labour; maternal episiotomy; maternal preeclamptic toxaemia; induction of labour; dysmaturity; maternal smoking in pregnancy; and a delay in neonatal crying. The results suggest that PBCs are important in the aetiology of schizophrenia in people with intellectual disability.