February 10, 2008

From James Michael Howard :

Re: Severe stress in pregnancy may be tied to kids’ schizophrenia (Feb. 4): It is my hypothesis that schizophrenia results from low DHEA in utero; this is the “early lesion.” This reduces brain development which is exposed later in life when a combination of cortisol and testosterone reduce availability of DHEA. This is why a stressful event is often connected with the onset of schizophrenia following puberty when DHEA levels naturally begin to decline in the late teens and early twenties.

In 1984, I first suggested cortisol, the stress hormone, evolved to counteract the actions of DHEA and may be the basis of the “fight or flight” mechanism. Since that time, the connection and ratio of cortisol with DHEA has appeared in the medical literature.

I suggest that in women who produce low DHEA or are experiencing antagonism to their DHEA, stress may increase the cortisol to DHEA ratio so much as to adversely affect fetal brain growth and development and result in subsequent schizophrenia in their offspring.

James Michael Howard
Fayetteville, Ark., U.S.A.


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