University of Liverpool Research
“Researchers at the University have found that children who experience severe trauma are three times as likely to develop schizophrenia in later life.
The findings shed new light on the debate about the importance of genetic and environmental triggers of psychotic disorders. For many years research in mental health has focused on the biological factors behind conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, but there is now increasing evidence to suggest these conditions cannot be fully understood without first looking at the life experiences of individual patients.”
“Children who had experienced any type of trauma before the age of 16 were approximately three times more likely to become psychotic in adulthood compared to those selected randomly from the population. Researchers found a relationship between the level of trauma and the likelihood of developing illness in later life. Those that were severely traumatised as children were at a greater risk, in some cases up to 50 times increased risk, than those who experienced trauma to a lesser extent. ”
“The Liverpool team also conducted a new study which looked at the relationship between specific psychotic symptoms and the type of trauma experienced in childhood. They found that different traumas led to different symptoms. Childhood sexual abuse, for example, was associated with hallucinations, whilst being brought up in a children’s home was associated with paranoia. The research further suggests a strong relationship between environment and the development of psychosis, and provides clues about the mechanisms leading to severe mental illness.”
Genetic Risk and Stressful Early Infancy Join to Increase Risk for Schizophrenia
“… researchers reported in the March 2 issue of Cell that defects in a schizophrenia-risk genes and environmental stress right after birth together can lead to abnormal brain development and raise the likelihood of developing schizophrenia by nearly one and half times.
“Our study suggests that if people have a single genetic risk factor alone or a traumatic environment in very early childhood alone, they may not develop mental disorders like schizophrenia,” says Guo-li Ming, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and member of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But the findings also suggest that someone who carries the genetic risk factor and experiences certain kinds of stress early in life may be more likely to develop the disease.”