Painful Births For Babies Could Lead To Violent Suicide In Adulthood

November 13, 1998

(Obstetric care and proneness of offspring to suicide as adults: case-control study)

Minimising pain and discomfort for an infant during birth seems to be of importance in reducing the risk of committing suicide by violent means in later life, claim a team of researchers from Sweden in this week's BMJ. Professor Bertil Jacobson and Professor Marc Bygdeman from the Karolinska Institute studied 645 babies born in Sweden between 1945 and 80, of whom 242 had gone on to commit suicide by violent means as adults between 1978 and 95.

They discovered that off-spring who subsequently committed suicide were more likely to have been exposed to birth complications and were subjected to twice as many interventions at birth than their siblings. They also found that the mothers of these babies were, on average, given fewer painkillers.

The authors conclude that obstetric procedures should be chosen to minimise pain and discomfort to the infant if an increased risk of suicide by violent means is to be avoided, but that their findings need further corroboration.


Professor Bertil Jacobson, Department of Medical Engineering, University Hospital, Huddinge, Sweden


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