How the Placenta May Play into the Development of Schizophrenia

A new glance into our neurodevelopment poses that the placenta may play a key roll in a heightened risk for developing Schizophrenia. This study suggests that complications of the placenta may help to ‘turn on’ some of the genes that have been associated with diseases of the brain. Ones like ADHD, Autism, and Schizophrenia. For years now brain development has been the key hypothesis that points to the likelihood that Schizophrenia is actually a neurodevelopmental disorder. As opposed to a mood or personality disorder. Unfortunately, the biomechanisms on how this change occurs in the growing brain has remained misunderstood.

“While the subject of myth and ritual in many cultures, the placenta remains a scientifically neglected human organ, despite its essential role for supplying nutrients and chemicals critical for normal prenatal development. Indeed, the placenta is the only organ removed from a human body that is not routinely sent to the laboratory for examination.

For over a quarter of a century, brain development during pregnancy and shortly after birth has remained central to a hypothesis that Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopment disorder. However, the biological mechanisms involved were poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that genetic variants alone increase the odds of developing Schizophrenia by only a fraction, while early life complications during pregnancy and labor can increase the risk by up to two-fold. The Lieber Institute investigators studied over 2800 adult individuals, 2038 of whom had Schizophrenia, of various ethnic backgrounds from four countries, including the USA, Europe, and Asia. All had undergone genetic testing and were surveyed for obstetrical history information.”

Researchers have found a prominent link between genetic variations in Schizophrenia and serious pregnancy complications.

These hypotheses begin to help us understand the larger male than female ratio in developmental behavioral disorders, a list in which Schizophrenia is included. Males have a two to four times greater risk of developing these type of disorders and this study may help us see why. It’s become partly clear that placenta complications are more abundant in male birth.

Finding ways to understand the why and how people go on to develop something as serious as Schizophrenia can help us to intervene with high-risk individuals. This research, though at its beginning, could help us immensely in the future.


Burness. “Genes, environment, and schizophrenia: New study finds the placenta is the missing link: “Placenta may also hold the key to why neurodevelopmental brain disorders are more common in males.”

ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2018.