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Schizophr Bull. 2004;30(2):303-15.

Offspring of parents with schizophrenia: mental disorders during childhood and adolescence.

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Department of Psychiatry, MC3077, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Although offspring of parents with schizophrenia are at risk for schizophrenic illness as adults, little is known about their pattern of symptoms as children and adolescents. Lifetime Axis I and II DSM-III-R diagnoses were made for 116 young people (ages 12-22). Forty-one subjects had a parent with schizophrenia, 39 had a parent with a nonschizophrenic mental disorder, and 36 had parents with no mental illness. Schizophrenia spectrum disorders occurred at higher rates among young people with a parent with schizophrenia (17.1%) than in other young people (5.3%), even after controlling for mental disorder in the nonproband parent. Schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder occurred exclusively in offspring of parents with schizophrenia. Offspring of parents with schizophrenia were also at increased risk for avoidant personality disorder but not paranoid personality disorder. Although lifetime anxiety disorders were common in all young people regardless of parent diagnosis, current anxiety disorders were more prevalent for the adolescent offspring of parents with schizophrenia. These data strongly suggest familial vulnerability to schizophrenia spectrum disorder that is observable before adulthood, particularly for males.

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