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December 21, 2005

Schizophrenia and the Chinese Famine of 1959-1961

JAMA. 2005;294(23):2968-2969. doi:10.1001/jama.294.23.2968-a

To the Editor: In their study on the rates of adult schizophrenia in China, Dr St Clair and colleagues1 found that in the Chinese provinces most affected by a massive famine in 1960-1961 the relative risk of developing schizophrenia that was conferred by prenatal maternal exposure to famine was 2.30 in 1960 and 1.93 in 1961 compared with nonfamine years. These results replicate a similar finding from the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945,2 and the implications of both studies are discussed by Dr Neugebauer in an Editorial.3 Given these results, it is likely that such exposure does play a pathogenic role in schizophrenia, along with other factors such as genetic susceptibility.

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