Can schizophrenia be prevented? Well, what we know is that there is a genetic basis for schizophrenia. So, if you have a family history of schizophrenia you're more likely to have it as well, although the risk is still small if you have a family member. So, that part can not be changed; your genes are your genes.
However, there's definitely a role of environment. And so, what we know is that the perinatal period, the period of pregnancy, delivery and just after delivery, it's a sensitive period for brain development and schizophrenia is a brain disorder. And so, there's promise that if we can provide better prenatal care so that pregnant mothers get good nutrition, avoid infections and toxins and have a lower risk of bleeding or a low birth weight baby, that possibly we can influence the risk of schizophrenia.
Also, trauma and stressful life circumstances and, in particular, child hood abuse may contribute the development of schizophrenia. And so, addressing those risk in our communities and in our families is really important and to helping to nurture children who are healthy is really important.
As well, there's a link between substance use in particular marijuana use among people who have a risk for schizophrenia, genetic risk, and the development for schizophrenia. So, If we can reduce the risk of using marijuana among people who are at risk for developing schizophrenia, we may be able to prevent some cases. There's unclear evidence on that point, but we know that the people who are younger who use substances including marijuana may affect their brain development, and so its best to avoid those substances.