Rhesus (Rh) incompatibility is a cause of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. Hemolytic disease results from the transplacentally transmitted maternal antibodies against Rh factor D and can cause permanent neurological damage in the affected newborn. This study examines the hypothesis that Rh incompatibility may be a risk factor for schizophrenia.
A sample of 1867 male subjects was divided into two groups, 535 Rh incompatible and 1332 Rh compatible, and compared on rate of schizophrenia.
The rate of schizophrenia was significantly higher in the Rh-incompatible group (2.1%) compared with the Rh-compatible group (0.8%) (P<.03). In addition, since the risk for Rh hemolytic disease increases with second and later Rh incompatible pregnancies, it is noteworthy that the secondand later-born incompatible offspring exhibited a significantly higher rate of schizophrenia than secondand later-born compatible offspring (P<.05). Also, as predicted, the rate of schizophrenia among firstborn incompatible subjects was not significantly different from that of firstborn compatible subjects (1.1% vs 0.7%).
Rh incompatibility may be a risk factor for schizophrenia.