HealthDay News — Pregnancy behaviors and certain childbirth complications may influence a child’s risk of developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to a study published online Oct. 5 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Gustaf Brander, of the Center for Psychiatry Research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues collected data on 2.4 million children born in Sweden between 1973 and 1996 and followed them through 2013. Of these children, 17,305 developed OCD, and their average age at diagnosis was 23.

The researchers found that smoking, method of delivery and birth weight, and a low Apgar score indicated a greater risk of OCD. One risk factor raised the likelihood by 11%; 5 or more raised it to 51%. The study findings held after accounting for other family conditions, such as socioeconomic status or parental mental illness.

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“A range of perinatal risk factors is associated with a higher risk for OCD independent of shared familial confounders, suggesting that perinatal risk factors may be in the causal pathway to OCD,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Fernandez TV, Leckman JF. Prenatal and Perinatal Risk Factors and the Promise of Birth Cohort Studies: Origins of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. October 5, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2092