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Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb;90(1-3):130-46. Epub 2007 Jan 5.

Community screening for psychotic-like experiences and other putative antecedents of schizophrenia in children aged 9-12 years.

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Department of Forensic Mental Health Science, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, Box P023, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.


Prospective longitudinal investigations are needed to identify causal processes leading to schizophrenia. However, there is presently no cost-effective way to identify children who are at risk of developing schizophrenia spectrum disorders: Although having a family history of schizophrenia is associated with elevated risk for developing spectrum disorders, the majority of individuals with schizophrenia do not have an afflicted relative. The present study aimed to test the feasibility of screening a community sample of children, aged 9 to 12 years, to identify children who experienced a triad of putative antecedents of schizophrenia that had been identified from previous research, including: (1) speech and/or motor development lags or problems; (2) social, emotional, or behavioural problems; and (3) psychotic-like-experiences (PLEs). 548 children and 264 caregivers completed questionnaires. 9.2% of boys and 4.1% of girls displayed the triad of antecedents. 58.9% of the children reported "certain experience" of one or more PLEs. The results suggest that questionnaire screening of community samples of children for the putative antecedents of schizophrenia spectrum disorders is feasible. Accuracy of identification will only be established by follow-up studies.

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