Urban Babies More Likely to be Schizophrenic

Written by Becca Tucker on . Posted in Posts.

Mental illness is as ubiquitous in this city as Starbucks. With nearly
a third of the homeless population suffering from a mental disorder, we
are constantly encountering troubled minds. Yet familiarity with the
symptoms brings us no closer to understanding the cause. That old man
yelling at the sidewalk is crazy, sur—but why?

A growing body of research suggests that environmental factors may have more to do with it than we thought. For instance, a baby born in the city is roughly 50 percent more likely to
develop schizophrenia, possibly because of heightened exposure to
infections. Babies born in winter and spring, when the general
population is more likely to be sick, are also at greater risk.  

As science advances, some generally held assumptions are giving way.
Scientists used to think dysfunctional families were a key risk factor
for schizophrenia, but now it seems that while dysfunctional families
exacerbate the disease, they probably don’t trigger it.

“If environmental risk factors for [mental illness] can be validated
and confirmed,” says Alan Brown of the Columbia University Medical
Center, “There is every reason to expect they will point to
preventative measures that lower their risks and morbidity.”

Photo courtesy of {amanda} on Flickr.