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Can J Psychiatry. 2001 Dec;46(10):923-30.

Childhood-onset schizophrenia: research update.

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  • 1Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


This review is a research update of recent literature related to childhood-onset schizophrenia (onset of psychotic symptoms by age 12 years). This subgroup of patients has attracted considerable research interest because patients with a childhood onset may represent a more homogeneous patient population in which to search for risk or etiologic factors. We examine data indicating that childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS) shares the same clinical and neurobiologic features as later-onset forms of the disorder. Compared with adults with schizophrenia, however, this subgroup of patients appears to have more severe premorbid neuro-developmental abnormalities, more cytogenetic anomalies, and potentially greater family histories of schizophrenia and associated spectrum disorders. While preliminary, these data indicate that a greater genetic vulnerability may be one of the underpinnings of COS. Future studies of this subgroup may provide important clues as to the genetic basis for schizophrenia and how gene products influence certain features of the disease, such as age of onset and mode of inheritance.

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