University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Schizophrenia tied to late development

There is a link between late development and schizophrenia, starting as early as the first year of a child's life. This is according to a recent University of Copenhagen study

Study findings indicate a link between schizophrenia and developmental delays as early as in the first year of life. This is according to the medical news site, MedWire.

Erik Lykke Mortensen from the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen and colleagues had 5765 mothers of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort record 12 developmental milestones during their child’s first year.

The children were then monitored over the course of 46-48 years.

Developmental milestones

Several factors -such as the age of the parents, gender, and parental social status- were taken into account, after which it was deduced that 5 developmental milestones were reached later in schizophrenics than in others.

»These early developmental delays may not only characterize schizophrenia, but may be associated with a range of psychiatric disorders,« says Erik Mortensen.

In chronological order, these were: smiling, lifting head, sitting, crawling, and walking.

Mostly small differences

92 people ended up suffering from schizophrenia, with a further 691 suffering from different psychiatric disorders. The people suffering from other illnesses reached most of the milestones before the people who developed schizophrenia, though still after healthy people had.

The only thing that differed greatly between the two groups were the age of which they could walk by themselves, occurring at an average of 13.01 in individuals with schizophrenia, compared to 12.12 months in those with other mental illnesses.

Doesn’t go for everyone

Although the patterns are consistent, the researchers stress that »not all individuals who developed schizophrenia showed significant developmental delays«.

Some (21 and 18 percent) who developed schizophrenia or other disorders actually reached the milestones faster than the people who developed no problems.

They added that neglect may also be a risk factor, and could partly explain the non-specific associations between developmental delay and mental illness.