By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter
Patients with schizophrenia whose mothers experienced obstetric complications (OCs) during pregnancy show more neurologic soft signs (NSS) than those with mothers who did not experience such complications, researchers report.
In a study of 63 men with schizophrenia, the team found that patients with maternal OCs during pregnancy (n=26) had significantly higher total scores on the 28-item Neurological Evaluation Scale (NES) than those without maternal OCs (n=37), at 30.7 versus 23.7.
"Neurodevelopment alterations such as those probably induced by OCs… can contribute to a premorbid brain dysfunctional state expressed by NSS, associated [with] an increased risk of adult schizophrenia," comment Giuseppe Bersani (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) and team.
"From this point of view, NSS can be seen as early markers of… neurofunctional impairment."
The team also found that schizophrenia patients with maternal OCs had significantly higher NES subscale scores for complex motor acts than those without, at 5.26 versus 3.29.
However, there were no significant differences between the groups regarding scores for the other two NES subscales of motor coordination and sensorial integration.
There was also no significant association between OC severity, as assessed using the Midwife Protocol, and NES total or subscale scores.
"The results of this study confirm the association of the presence of OCs history and NSS in schizophrenic patients," conclude Bersani et al in Acta Neuropsychiatrica.
They add: "The association between OCs history and NSS is in agreement with the general neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia and can shed some light on the heterogeneity of neurologic and clinical features of the illness."
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