A group of researchers in Spain found that the children and adolescent offspring of patients with schizophrenia (SZ-off) compared with a community control group (CC-off) had significantly more attenuated psychotic symptoms and higher mean scores in psychopathology scales and higher dysfunction scores, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Research.
Psychiatrists of adult psychiatric units identified schizophrenic (SZ) patients with offspring (SZ-off) age 6 to 17 years who agreed to be contacted for the study. Assessments were then conducted in the child and adolescent psychiatry departments of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain, and Hospital Gregorio Marañon of Madrid in Spain. The study included 34 parents with a diagnosis of SZ and 41 SZ-off. The CC families numbered 65 and 107 community-control offspring (CC-off) age 6 to 17 were included in the study.
Parents were excluded if they had intellectual disability or drug- or medically-induced psychosis. In addition to those exclusions, CC adults were not selected if they had a history of bipolar disorder or SZ, or a relative with SZ. The children and adolescents were admitted to the study if they had no intellectual disability, head injury with loss of consciousness, or other severe neurological conditions. The SZ-off group had a lower mean age and socioeconomic status shown by logistic regression analysis (odds ratio [OR]: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.87-0.97) and higher positive subscale scores on the researchers’ scale of prodromal symptoms (OR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.31-4.42).
The SZ-off group had significant emotional (P =.028), behavioral (P =.000), and peer related problems (P =.025) and significantly poorer performance at school (P =.025). They also had a significantly increased dysfunction score (P =.005).
The researchers conclude that the warning signs seen in this study in youthful SZ-off provide information about symptom progression that facilitates early intervention to improve short- and long-term outcomes for children and adolescents with a positive SZ family history.
Noguera A, Castro-Fornieles J, Romero S et al. Attenuated psychotic symptoms in children and adolescent offspring of patients with schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2017.07.050