Author(s): Torrey EF, Miller J, Rawlings R, Yolken RH, Torrey EF, Miller J, Rawlings R, Yolken RH
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Abstract More than 250 studies, covering 29 Northern and five Southern Hemisphere countries, have been published on the birth seasonality of individuals who develop schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. Despite methodological problems, the studies are remarkably consistent in showing a 5-8\% winter-spring excess of births for both schizophrenia and mania/bipolar disorder. This seasonal birth excess is also found in schizoaffective disorder (December-March), major depression (March-May), and autism (March) but not in other psychiatric conditions with the possible exceptions of eating disorders and antisocial personality disorder. The seasonal birth pattern also may shift over time. Attempts to correlate the seasonal birth excess with specific features of schizophrenia suggest that winter-spring births are probably related to urban births and to a negative family history. Possible correlations include lesser severity of illness and neurophysiological measures. There appears to be no correlation with gender, social class, race, measurable pregnancy and birth complications, clinical subtypes, or neurological, neuropsychological, or neuroimaging measures. Virtually no correlation studies have been done for bipolar disorder. Regarding the cause of the birth seasonality, statistical artifact and parental procreational habits are unlikely explanations. Seasonal effects of genes, subtle pregnancy and birth complications, light and internal chemistry, toxins, nutrition, temperature/weather, and infectious agents or a combination of these are all viable possibilities.
This article was published in Schizophr Res
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry