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Time-to-Pregnancy Linked to Schizophrenia

There may be a link between the development of schizophrenia in offspring and how long a couple spends on trying to conceive a child.

New research by Mark Opler, from New York University School of Medicine, and his team suggests that when this time-to-pregnancy period is prolonged to a year or more the chances the unborn child will develop schizophrenia increases by nearly two percent.

“Our finding suggests that some feature of parental reproductive health may contribute to the risk of this disease,” said Opler.

Overall, the number seems small; however, the risk of schizophrenia should be well known to a couple trying to conceive.

A person suffering with schizophrenia needs proper treatment. People with this disorder have problems thinking rationally, may have hallucinations and delusions. Most troubling is that people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are on average 30 percent more likely to commit suicide.

For this study, data was gathered from 12,269 individuals who took part in the Jerusalem cohort study. The women were interviewed after having given birth. Researchers then took a look at the group of women who had planned their pregnancy.

The group was then divided into subgroups based on how long it took the mothers to become pregnant.

Seventy-three percent of the women spent less than six months to become pregnant. More than half spent less than three months trying to conceive. However, 16 percent of the women had tried more than a year to become pregnant. It was in this group that researchers found children were more susceptible to the mental health disorder.

While researchers will still need to do further studies to understand the connection between time-to-pregnancy and schizophrenia, they did find that the parents who had tried for more than a year tended to be older than the parents who were able to conceive in about three months–a possible contributing factor.

Paternal age has long played a role in a child’s mental health. Fathers over the age of 30 slightly elevated their unborn child’s risk of schizophrenia.

“This study offers additional support for the role of pre-conceptual factors in the development of schizophrenia,” say Opler and team.

Time-to-Pregnancy Linked to Schizophrenia

Rochelle Oliver, Associate News Editor

APA Reference
Associate News Editor, R. (2018). Time-to-Pregnancy Linked to Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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