Natural Childbirth Could Play A Role In Brain Development

November 18, 1998

CAESAREAN babies may be more susceptible to schizophrenia than children born naturally, say Canadian researchers who studied the effects of the operation on rats. The finding raises doubts about the increasing number of Caesarean sections performed for convenience.

Patricia Boksa and Bassem El-Khodor of McGill University in Montreal gave pregnant rats general anaesthetics and delivered their young by Caesarean section. The operations were uncomplicated and the rat pups appeared normal at birth. But they grew into adults with marked differences compared with controls born naturally.

"To our surprise, we kept finding dopamine system differences," says Boksa. When the Caesarean rats were given amphetamines, for instance, drugs that activate the dopamine system in the brain, they became far more active than the other group, the researchers told last week's meeting. The Caesarean rats also had a far worse response to repeated tail pinching, a standard test for stress reactions.

The results hint that babies born by Caesarean may be more vulnerable to schizophrenia, which is thought to involve an overactive dopamine system and has a statistical link with birth complications. But no one knows why a Caesarean birth might increase the risk of developing the illness. Boksa thinks the absence of hormonal surges when a baby is born naturally may play a role, because these may be important for brain development. Boksa says we need more evidence about the operation's effects. "I would question the Caesarean section of convenience," she says.

"There's a lot of discussion about complications precipitating schizophrenia in genetically vulnerable people," says Barbara Fish of the University of California at Los Angeles, who studies the effects of difficult births. But she cautions that it is difficult to draw conclusions from the studies when many environmental factors are involved.
-end-
Author: Alison Motluk
New Scientist , issue 21st Nov. 98

PLEASE MENTION NEW SCIENTIST AS THE SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE - THANK YOU

UK CONTACT - Claire Bowles, New Scientist Press Office, London:
Tel: 44-171-331-2751 or email claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
US CONTACT - Barbara Thurlow, New Scientist Washington office:
Tel: 202-452-1178 or email newscidc@idt.net
-end-


New Scientist

Related Schizophrenia Articles from Brightsurf:

Schizophrenia: When the thalamus misleads the ear
Scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Synapsy National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) have succeeded in linking the onset of auditory hallucinations - one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia - with the abnormal development of certain substructures of a region deep in the brain called the thalamus.

Unlocking schizophrenia
New research, led by Prof. LIU Bing and Prof. JIANG Tianzi from the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators have recently developed a novel imaging marker that may help in the personalized medicine of psychiatric disorders.

Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia
In a study of more than 300 patients from three continents, over one third had brains that looked similar to healthy people.

New clues into the genetic origins of schizophrenia
The first genetic analysis of schizophrenia in an ancestral African population, the South African Xhosa, appears in the Jan.

Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia
A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer
Schizophrenia may be related to the deletion syndrome. However, not everyone who has the syndrome necessarily develops psychotic symptoms.

Study suggests overdiagnosis of schizophrenia
In a small study of patients referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that about half the people referred to the clinic with a schizophrenia diagnosis didn't actually have schizophrenia.

The ways of wisdom in schizophrenia
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine report that persons with schizophrenia scored lower on a wisdom assessment than non-psychiatric comparison participants, but that there was considerable variability in levels of wisdom, and those with higher scores displayed fewer psychotic symptoms.

Recognizing the uniqueness of different individuals with schizophrenia
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia differ greatly from one another. Researchers from Radboud university medical center, along with colleagues from England and Norway, have demonstrated that very few identical brain differences are shared amongst different patients.

Resynchronizing neurons to erase schizophrenia
Today, a decisive step in understanding schizophrenia has been taken.

Read More: Schizophrenia News and Schizophrenia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.