Seasonality of births in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: A review of the literature

E. Fuller Torrey, Judy Miller, Robert Rawlings, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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 seventy 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 7 1997

Keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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