New Research Into Higher Rates of Psychoses

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Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London have found higher rates of schizophrenia and other psychoses in certain ethnic minority groups and that parental separation in childhood is associated with an increased risk of developing later psychosis. These findings, published in Psychological Medicine this month, provide new scientific evidence into these disorders as well as social risk factors. This research forms part of the largest ever study of the development of psychoses in the UK.

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Research scientists from south-east London, Nottingham and Bristol have been collaborating in this multi-centre Medical Research Council (MRC) funded AESOP study (Aetiology and Ethnicity of Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses) begun in 1997. The MRC has just announced its intention to provide continuing funding for this unique study over the next five years.

In the first paper researchers found that African Caribbean and Black African populations in England suffer from remarkably high rates of schizophrenia and manic psychosis. For example, schizophrenia was nine times more common in African Caribbeans and six times more common in Black Africans than in the White British population. These high rates were found in both men and women and across all ages, from 16 to 64. Other ethnic minority groups had more modestly increased rates, including non-British Whites who had a 2.5 fold increased risk for schizophrenia.

Dr Paul Fearon, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry and lead author on the paper, explains:

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