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Severe stress during pregnancy linked to schizophrenia

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Pregnant women who endure severe psychological stress are more likely to give birth to a child that develops schizophrenia than other women, according to researchers.

US researchers looked at data from 88,829 people born in Jerusalem between 1964 and 1976.

The authors found the offspring of women who were in their second month of pregnancy during the height of the Arab-Israeli war in June of 1967 displayed a significantly higher incidence of schizophrenia over the following 21-33 years.

‘The stresses in question are those that would be experienced in a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, a terrorist attack, or a sudden bereavement,’ the authors said in the online journal BMC Psychiatry.

‘The placenta is very sensitive to stress hormones in the mother, these hormones were probably amplified during the time of the war,’ they added.

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