Environmental risk factors for schizophrenia: implications for prevention

Author(s): Simona A Stilo, Marta Di Forti, Robin M Murray

The most important risk factor for schizophrenia is a positive family history, but only a minority of people with schizophrenia have an affected relative and no single gene of large effect has been consistently associated with psychosis risk. Epidemiological research has elucidated putative biological and psychosocial candidate risk factors for schizophrenia. Biological factors include advanced paternal age, exposure to obstetric events and abuse of drugs such as stimulants and cannabis. Recent evidence indicates that social factors such as migration, urban living and victimization also increase the risk. However, neither individual susceptibility genes nor individual environmental risk factors appear sufficient or necessary to cause schizophrenia. Both genetic and environmental risk factors are mostly of small effect, but the latter offer more tangible targets for prevention.


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