What causes seasonality of birth in schizophrenia?

Neurosci Res. 2004 Jan;48(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2003.09.002.


An excess of winter-spring births (and/or a decrease of summer births) has consistently been observed in schizophrenia (SCZ). This observation may provide a significant clue about the causes of the disease if specific factors which cause the phenomenon can be determined. This paper reviews several studies which investigated factors correlated with this observation in SCZ, in an attempt to determine which factors more likely cause the seasonality. Among the candidates of the factors are meteorological variables (such as ambient temperature), several infections, maternal hormones, sperm quality, nutrition and external toxins. A variation of procreation might also have an effect. Among the factors, the most extensively studied are temperature and viral infections. Some of them have appeared promising, but further studies are definitely required. Several challenges, including complicated correlations of the factors and determination of the susceptible period during pregnancy, need to be overcome. Comparisons of the data from areas and cohorts with different patterns of the candidate factors may be helpful. Animal studies may also help investigate the molecular and physiological mechanisms of the phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Heavy Metal Poisoning
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meteorological Concepts
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Seasons*


  • Metals, Heavy