Children born to women who suffer the death of a close relative during the first three months of pregnancy may be at higher risk of schizophrenia, research has shown.
Severe stress triggered by major life events in the early stages of pregnancy could have a damaging effect on the mental development of the foetus, researchers say.
A study of almost 1,400,000 people in Denmark found the risk of schizophrenia was increased by 67 per cent among the offspring of mothers who experienced the death of a partner, older child, sibling or parent during early pregnancy.
In all, mothers of almost 22,000 children suffered the death of a close relative antenatally or during pregnancy. Among the children of those who went through tragedy in the first three months of pregnancy, 16 later developed schizophrenia.
Professor Philip Baker, consultant obstetrician at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, who led the study, said: "Increasingly, we are learning that the environment a baby is exposed to inside the womb is determining long-term health.
Source - Independent