Morphological features in a Xhosa schizophrenia population
Background: Demonstrating an association between physical malformation and schizophrenia could be considered supportive of a neurodevelopmental origin of schizophrenia and may offer insights into a critical period for the development of this illness. The aim of our study was to investigate whether differences in the presence of minor physical anomalies could be demonstrated between schizophrenia sufferers and normal controls in a Xhosa population with a view to identifying a means of subtyping schizophrenia for use in future genetic studies. Methods: Sixty-three subjects with schizophrenia (21 sibling pairs, 1 sibship of four and a group of probands with an affected non-participating sibling (n = 17)), 81 normal controls (37 singletons and 22 sibling pairs) of Xhosa ethnicity were recruited. Each participant was then examined for minor physical anomalies using the Modified Waldrop scale. The relationship between each of the morphological features and the presence of an affected sib was examined using the Chi-squared test, followed by an intra-pair concordance analysis in the sibling pairs. Results: Gap between first and second toes was significantly more common in the affected sib pair group when compared to the non-affected sib pair group (p = 0.019) and non-affected singleton control group (p = 0.013). Concordance analysis also revealed increased concordance for this item in the affected sib pair group. Conclusion: These findings offer an intriguing possibility that in the Xhosa population, affected sib pair status may be linked to a neurodevelopmental insult during a specific period of the fetal developmental.