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King, Suzanne

Adjunct Professor

Contact:

  • Telephone 514-761-6131 #2353 Pav. PAVILLON MARIE-VICTORIN
King, Suzanne

Presentation

Suzanne King is a Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University and has been a Lead Investigator in the Psychosocial Research Division at the Douglas Institute Research Centre since 1991. Her prior work on schizophrenia investigated the associations between the course of schizophrenia and family attitudes toward the patient (expressed emotions).

More recently, Project EnviroGen has been investigating the means by which risk factors for schizophrenia, including genetics, prenatal stress, obstetric complications, childhood trauma and teenage cannabis use, influence the appearance of symptoms among schizophrenic individuals and in "healthy" control populations. Using a local natural disaster to prospectively examine the effects of prenatal stress, Dr. King and her team followed over 150 women who had been pregnant during the 1998 ice storm and their children.

Project Icestorm showed that the severity of maternal stress and the trimester of the pregnancy at the time of exposure explain the variance in the children's cognitive, behavioural and physical development. The effects of exposure to prenatal maternal stress were still present among children at age 11 ½.

A second study on prenatal maternal stress, the Iowa Flood Study, attempted to replicate Project Icestorm by following 300 women who had experienced flooding in June 2008, including a cohort of women whose risk factors and psychosocial functioning had been assessed before the disaster, making this the first pre- and post-trauma study of pregnant women.

Lastly, the QF2011 Queensland Flood Study includes pre-flood psychosocial data, a randomized control group using two birth support practices by a midwife, and biological samples from the births collected from nearly 300 Australian women. Dr. King is attempting to integrate the findings of her prospective and retrospective studies in a neurodevelopmental model of severe mental illness.

Areas of expertise