Middle-ear disease and schizophrenia: case-control study.
ABSTRACT One hundred years ago psychiatrists thought that ear disease could cause insanity by irritation of the brain. Current understanding of the role of the temporal lobes in schizophrenia and their proximity to the middle ear supports this hypothesis.
To establish the rate of middle-ear disease pre-dating the onset of schizophrenia.
Eighty-four patients with schizophrenia were each matched to four non-psychiatric controls by age, gender and season of birth. History of ear disease was obtained from general practice records. Additional information on symptoms was collected for participants in the case group, who also had audiometry.
The odds ratio of recorded middle-ear disease pre-dating schizophrenia was 3.68 (95% CI 1.86-7.28). This excess was particularly marked on the left (OR=4.15, 95% CI 2.08-8.29). Auditory hallucinations were associated with middle-ear disease but not with hearing loss.
There is an association between middle-ear disease and schizophrenia which may have aetiological significance.
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia often becomes manifest in late adolescence and young adulthood but deviations in physical and behavioural development may already be present in childhood. We investigated the relationship between hearing impairment (measured with audiometry) and speech impairment (broadly defined) at age 4 years and adult risk of non-affective psychosis. Method We performed a population-based, case-control study in Sweden with 105 cases of schizophrenia or other non-affective psychoses and 213 controls matched for sex, date and place of birth. Information on hearing and speech impairment at age 4, along with potential confounding factors, was retrieved from Well Baby Clinic (WBC) records. RESULTS: Hearing impairment [odds ratio (OR) 6.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6-23.2] and speech impairment (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.4-4.9) at age 4 were associated with an increased risk of non-affective psychotic illness. These associations were mutually independent and not explained by parental psychiatric history, occupational class or obstetric complications. CONCLUSIONS: These results support the hypothesis that psychosis has a developmental aspect with presentation of antecedent markers early in childhood, long before the disease becomes manifest. Our findings add to the growing evidence that early hearing impairment and speech impairment are risk indicators for later non-affective psychosis and possibly represent aetiological clues and potentially modifiable risk factors. Notably, speech impairment and language impairment are both detectable with inexpensive, easily accessible screening.Psychological Medicine 11/2012; 136:1-10. DOI:10.1017/S0033291712002644 · 5.43 Impact Factor
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