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Perinatal maternal life events and psychotic experiences in children at twelve years in a birth cohort study

Dorrington, Sarah; Zammit, Stan; Asher, Laura; Evans, Jonathan; Heron, Jonathan; Lewis, Glyn


Sarah Dorrington

Stan Zammit

Clinical Associate Professor

Jonathan Evans

Jonathan Heron

Glyn Lewis


Background: International studies indicate that the median prevalence of psychotic experiences in children is 7%. It has been proposed that environmental stress during pregnancy may affect the neurodevelopment of the foetus and lead to a vulnerability in the child to later stressors and psychopathology.
Aim: In this study we explore the relationship between environmental stress during pregnancy and psychotic experiences in children in the general population at 12 years.
Methods: We analysed a birth cohort of 5038 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Environmental stress was measured as life event exposure. Data on life events were collected on women during their pregnancy, whilst psychotic experiences in the offspring were assessed at age 12.
Results: There was a weak association between maternal exposure to life events and psychotic experiences at twelve years (crude OR 1.10 95% CI 1.02–1.18) per quartile of life event score. This association was not reduced after adjustment for socio-economic status, family history of schizophrenia, maternal education or birth weight but after adjustment for maternal anxiety and depression and smoking in early pregnancy there was no longer any evidence for an association (OR 1.01 95% CI 0.93–1.10).
Conclusion: This study provides some evidence to suggest that stressful life events may affect child psychotic experiences through effects on maternal psychopathology, and possibly physiology, during pregnancy.


Dorrington, S., Zammit, S., Asher, L., Evans, J., Heron, J., & Lewis, G. (2014). Perinatal maternal life events and psychotic experiences in children at twelve years in a birth cohort study. Schizophrenia Research, 152(1), 158-163.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2013
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2013
Publication Date 2014-01
Deposit Date Jul 17, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 24, 2020
Journal Schizophrenia Research
Print ISSN 0920-9964
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 152
Issue 1
Pages 158-163
Keywords Biological Psychiatry; Psychiatry and Mental health
Public URL
Publisher URL


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