Preterm birth is associated with an elevated risk of developmental and adult psychiatric disorders, including psychosis. In this review, we evaluate the implications of neurodevelopmental, cognitive, motor, and social sequelae of preterm birth for developing psychosis, with an emphasis on outcomes observed in adulthood. Abnormal brain development precipitated by early exposure to the extra-uterine environment, and exacerbated by neuroinflammation, neonatal brain injury, and genetic vulnerability, can result in alterations of brain structure and function persisting into adulthood. These alterations, including abnormal regional brain volumes and white matter macro- and micro-structure, can critically impair functional (e.g. frontoparietal and thalamocortical) network connectivity in a manner characteristic of psychotic illness. The resulting executive, social, and motor dysfunctions may constitute the basis for behavioural vulnerability ultimately giving rise to psychotic symptomatology. There are many pathways to psychosis, but elucidating more precisely the mechanisms whereby preterm birth increases risk may shed light on that route consequent upon early neurodevelopmental insult.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 24 Apr 2021|