The Prevention of Schizophrenia

Alan S. Brown; John J. McGrath


Schizophr Bull. 2011;37(2):257-261. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


A series of articles that speculate on the primary prevention of schizophrenia might seem overly optimistic, if not implausible. However, we do not share this degree of nihilism. Much has been learned about risk factors for schizophrenia over the last 3 decades. The incidence of schizophrenia varies between sites and over time.[1] Some ethnic groups are at increased risk of schizophrenia when they migrate to particular counties but not in their country of origin.[2,3] Almost certainly, these gradients are driven by environmentally mediated risk factors. It seems reasonable to expect that at least some of these exposures will be potentially modifiable. Epidemiologic research has revealed a range of candidate exposures related to infection and nutrition, which are reviewed in this volume (see Brown and Patterson,[4] McGrath et al[5]), as well as a host of other putative risk factors such as psychosocial stress,[6,7] cannabis use,[8–10] and advanced paternal age,[11,12] and other exposures which, in our view, are worthy of careful scrutiny. The stage is now set for the "implausible"—the primary prevention of schizophrenia.