Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research (Feb 2001)

Neurodevelopmental risk factors in schizophrenia

  • M.I. Lobato,
  • P. Belmonte-de-Abreu,
  • D. Knijnik,
  • B. Teruchkin,
  • E. Ghisolfi,
  • A. Henriques

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 34, no. 2
pp. 155 – 163


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The authors review environmental and neurodevelopmental risk factors for schizophrenic disorders, with emphasis on minor physical anomalies, particularly craniofacial anomalies and dermatoglyphic variations. The high prevalence of these anomalies among schizophrenic subjects supports the neurodevelopmental theory of the etiology of schizophrenia, since they suggest either genetically or epigenetically controlled faulty embryonic development of structures of ectodermal origin like brain and skin. This may disturb neurodevelopment that in turn may cause these subjects to be at increased risk for the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. The precise confirmation of this theory, at least in some cases, will provide further understanding of these illnesses, allowing easy and inexpensive identification of subjects at risk and providing guidelines for the development of new pharmacological interventions for early treatment and even for primary prevention of the illness.