11. Environmental Risk Factors for Schizophrenia

  1. Daniel R. Weinberger MD4 and
  2. Paul J. Harrison MA, BM, BCh, DM(Oxon), FRCPsych5
  1. John J. McGrath AM, MBBS, MD, PhD, FRANZCP1 and
  2. Robin M. Murray MD, M Phil, MRCP, MRC Psych, FRS2,3

Published Online: 8 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444327298.ch11

Schizophrenia, Third Edition

Schizophrenia, Third Edition

How to Cite

McGrath, J. J. and Murray, R. M. (2010) Environmental Risk Factors for Schizophrenia, in Schizophrenia, Third Edition (eds D. R. Weinberger and P. J. Harrison), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444327298.ch11

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Genes, Cognition and Psychosis Program, Clinical Studies Section, Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

  2. 5

    Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and Department of Psychiatry, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Australia

  2. 2

    Institute of Psychiatry at the Maudsley, King's College, University of London, UK

  3. 3

    Maudsley Hospital, London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 8 MAR 2011
  2. Published Print: 10 DEC 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405176972

Online ISBN: 9781444327298



  • schizophrenia;
  • risk factor;
  • epidemiology;
  • prenatal infection;
  • prenatal nutrition;
  • pregnancy and birth complications;
  • social biology;
  • cannabis;
  • paternal age;
  • neurodevelopment


Data have steadily accumulated that link various environmental exposures with an increased risk of schizophrenia. This chapter summarizes the evidence for various prenatal exposures, including candidates related to infection, nutrition, and pregnancy and birth complications. Migrant status and growing up in urban settings have also been linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia, thus suggesting a role for stress-related mechanisms in the etiology of schizophrenia. Recent evidence has found an association between advanced paternal age and an increased risk of schizophrenia. Finally, the contribution of illicit drugs such as cannabis to an increased risk of schizophrenia is detailed. This chapter provides a concise summary of this evidence, and outlines general directions for future research.