Developmental precursors and biological markers for schizophrenia and affective disorders: Specificity and public health implications

  • P.B. Jones
  • C.J. Tarrant
Special issue

DOI: 10.1007/s004060070003

Cite this article as:
Jones, P. & Tarrant, C. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (2000) 250: 286. doi:10.1007/s004060070003


Schizophrenia's developmental dimension includes causes being active early in life. Precursors are manifest before psychosis begins, and there is an emerging public health agenda including prediction and prevention. We discuss the specificity of some developmental precursors to schizophrenia as an outcome, with particular reference to longitudinal birth cohort studies. Underlying structural brain abnormalities are considered. Differences from controls are found in schizophrenia and, to a lesser extent, before affective disorder on many measures. This apparent lack of specificity may not be the case in neurobiological terms, as underlying mechanisms may be different; parsimony suggests not. This same lack of specificity may be an advantage in public health terms, raising the possibility of strategies to predict and prevent a range of psychiatric disorders, not just schizophrenia.

Key words Schizophrenia Bipolar affective disorder Psychosis Development Causation Specificity Prediction Public health Prevention Early intervention Evidence-based practice 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • P.B. Jones
    • 1
  • C.J. Tarrant
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Cambridge, Dept. of Psychiatry, Box 189, Addenbrooke' Hospital, Cambridge CB2 200 U.K., e-mail:
  2. 2.Division of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, Duncan Macmillan House, Porchester Road, Nottingham, U.K. NG3 6AAGB

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