BACKGROUND: There is evidence for hippocampal volume loss in schizophrenia, but the etiology of this remains unclear. The aim of our study was to assess the contribution of familial liability and obstetric complications to hippocampal volume reduction in schizophrenia. METHODS: Hippocampal volumes were obtained using stereological methods from magnetic resonance scans performed on 35 schizophrenic probands from multiply affected families and 63 of their unaffected relatives, as well as 31 schizophrenic probands from families with no other affected members, 33 of their unaffected relatives, and 68 control subjects. RESULTS: Probands with schizophrenia, regardless of family history, had significant volume reduction of the left hippocampus. Hippocampal volume was not significantly reduced in either group of relatives. Obstetric complications were associated with left hippocampal volume reduction. CONCLUSIONS: We failed to find evidence that hippocampal volume loss is associated with familial liability to schizophrenia but have confirmed the association between hippocampal volume reduction and exposure to obstetric complications.
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