• To test the role of maternal stress during pregnancy in psychiatric and behavior disorders, a retrospective epidemiological study was conducted, using the Finnish population register for persons born between 1925 and 1957. One hundred sixtyseven persons were detected whose fathers had died before their children's births; a control group comprised 168 persons whose fathers died during the first year of their children's lives.
The number of diagnosed schizophrenics treated in psychiatric hospitals and the number of persons committing crimes were significantly higher in the index than in the control group. The incidence of alcoholism and personality disorders was relatively high in both groups. The index psychiatric cases had a low frequency of birth complications, whereas those of the control group were high.
The results suggest that especially during months 3 to 5 and 9 to 10 of pregnancy, maternal stress may increase the risk of the child for psychiatric disorders, perhaps mediated through the inborn temperament of the child.