Our research is primarily concerned with possible aetiological role of prenatal risk factors and non-optimal conditions around birth in schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric diseases like affective psychosis, reactive psychosis, infantile autism, anorexia nervosa and ADHD. In a series of clinical case-control studies and population-based studies based on Swedish national registers, we have demonstrated an increased risk for schizophrenia among boys who were small-for-gestational-age or had low ponderal index and maternal bleeding in late pregnancy. The mechanism remains unknown, but ischaemic brain damage secondary to fetal malnutrition and longterm fetal asphyxia is one possibility. We have also found perinatal risk factors related to anorexia nervosa and an increased risk for infantile autism among children born with a small weight for gestational age. To further examine the role of prenatal factors for schizophrenia, our research team has now undertaken a study that examine fetal growth and complications around birth in monozygotic and dizygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia. Another area of interest is adverse pregnancy outcome among parents with psychiatric disorders and we have recently shown an increased risk of low birth weight and stillbirth among high-risk offspring to schizophrenic mothers.
The 'fetal growth hypothesis' for schizophrenia will be further tested to disentangle fetal environmental hazards, maternal life style/social disadvantage and genetic liability. For this purpose our research group uses information from the Medical Birth Register, the Inpatient Register and the Twin Register, unit medical records, and interviews, to carry out nation-wide epidemiological studies. A separate, but related issue is to improve our understanding of how healthy co-twins and siblings to persons with schizophrenia perceive and cope with increased familiar risks and view ethically important aspects of research participation.
- 1996 PhD, Clinical Psychology. Department of Psychology, Uppsala University
- 2002 Associate professor (docent) in Medical Psychology, Departmant of Neuroscience, Uppsala University
- 2007 Associate professor in psychiatric epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet