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Risk Factors for Schizophrenia

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Schizophrenia

A risk factor is something that raises a person's chances of getting a disease or health problem. A person can have schizophrenia with or without the risks listed below. The more risks a person has, the greater the chances are.

Schizophrenia tends to run in families. The risk if higher if a parent, brother, or sister has schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Drug use—Includes illegal drugs and marijuana during teen and young adult years.
  • Father's age is older than 55 years before birth.
  • Stressful family events such as:
    • Death or loss of family member
    • Being migrant or refugee
    • Childhood abuse
  • A parent with a drug or alcohol abuse disorder
  • Problems at or before birth. May include bleeding, infection, or poor food resources for mother during pregnancy. Lack of oxygen, infection, early birth, or low birth weight for baby.


  • Schizophrenia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/schizophrenia.
  • Schizophrenia. Mental Health America website. Available at: https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/schizophrenia.
  • Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia.
  • Stilo SA, Murray RM. Non-genetic factors in schizophrenia. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019;21(10):100.


  • Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.