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Schizophr Res. 2011 Jun;129(1):52-6. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.03.023. Epub 2011 Apr 17.

Cannabis use disorder and age at onset of psychosis--a study in first-episode patients.

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  • 1University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bern, Switzerland.



Age at onset of psychosis (AAO) may be younger in patients with cannabis use disorders (CUD) compared to those without CUD (NCUD). Previous studies included CUD co-morbid with other substance use disorders (SUD), and many did not control for confounders.


Controlling for relevant confounders, differences in AAO between patients with and without CUD excluding those with any other SUD were analyzed in a large representative file audit of 625 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients (age 14 to 29years) admitted to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre in Melbourne, Australia.


Three quarters of the 625 FEP patients had a CUD. Cannabis use started before psychosis onset in 87.6% of patients. AAO was not significantly different between CUD (without other SUD, n=201) and NCUD (n=157). However, AAO was younger in those with early CUD (starting age 14 or younger) compared to NCUD (F(1)=5.2; p=0.024; partial η(2)=0.026). Earlier age at onset of cannabis use predicted earlier age at onset of psychosis (β=-0.49, R(2)-change=0.25, p<0.001).


Only CUD starting age 14 or younger was associated with an earlier AAO at a small effect size. These findings suggest that CUD may exert an indirect effect on brain maturation resulting in earlier AAO potentially only in cannabis sensitive subjects.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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