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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999;8 Suppl 1:I21-8.

The ESSEN study of childhood-onset schizophrenia: selected results.

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Rheinische Kliniken Essen, Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie des Kindes- und Jugendalters, Germany.



We present the results of a 42 year long-term follow-up of 44 patients (19 males, 25 females) with childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS, age at onset: 7-14 years) who could be traced for a second follow-up examination 27 years after the first follow-up.


Data from interviews, clinical records, premorbid and social disability assessments were evaluated for statistical analyses. The symptomatology observed during the whole course of illness was rediagnosed by DSM-IV criteria.


The paranoid, catatonic, and schizoaffectives subtypes appeared most frequently. There have been no gender differences in age of first psychiatric symptoms (AFS), AFPS, and age of first hospitalization. Kaplan-Meier's survival-analysis carried out for AFPS with sex as the grouping factor revealed that the cumulative prevalence appears to be earlier in females (between 7 and 15 years) than in males (between 10 and 18 years). Of the 44 patients 50 % had a continuing severe course. Patients with onset before 12 years of age were characterized by a chronic/insidious onset, marked premorbid abnormalities, and by a poorer remission. Premorbid features of social withdrawal and reluctance indicated a risk for social disability within the later course.


COS, as a rare but severe variant of schizophrenia, frequently develops from premorbid social maladaptation to an insidious onset but is subsequently followed by a transition to a course and outcome not distinguishable from that of adult-onset schizophrenia.

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