, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 265-271
Date: 04 Oct 2008

Effect of socioeconomic status and parents’ education at birth on risk of schizophrenia in offspring

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Although it is known that schizophrenia is associated with social class, controversy exists as to the nature of this association. The authors studied the incidence of schizophrenia in relation to social class at birth in a population-based cohort of 88,829 offspring born in Jerusalem in 1964–1976. They constructed a six-point scale to index social class, based on paternal occupation at the time of birth, with each of 108 occupations being ranked by mean education. Cox proportional hazards methods were used in adjusting for sex, parents’ ages, duration of marriage and birth order. Linkage with Israel’s Psychiatric Registry identified 637 people admitted to psychiatric care facilities with schizophrenia-related diagnoses, before 1998. There was no gradient of risk for schizophrenia associated with social class at birth; however, offspring of fathers in the lowest social class showed a modest increase in risk (adjusted Relative Risk = 1.4; 95% Confidence interval = 1.1–1.8, P = 0.002). These data suggest that in contrast to many other health outcomes, there is not a continuous gradient for increasing schizophrenia with decreasing social class of origin. Instead, a modest increase in risk for schizophrenia was observed only for those born at the bottom of the social ladder.