Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Subtle Cues in Young Predict Schizophrenia Risk

Children at high familial risk of schizophrenia may benefit from a wide array of supports that could help reduce the likelihood of developing the illness, said Cindy Liu, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, in the current issue of the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Often the children born to parents with schizophrenia exhibit visible if subtle signs that can predict later development of psychoses, wrote Liu. These include neuromotor problems and minor physical anomalies; speech, language, or hearing problems; cognitive impairments; and antisocial or externalizing behavior.

Prenatal maternal infection or life stress, obstetric complications, childhood adversity, and life stress may also contribute to risk.

“Targeting [familial high-risk] children and their families may be the most practical strategy for early intervention at this time,” concluded Liu and colleagues. Such interventions might include ensuring continued prenatal care for women with psychoses, increasing social support, enhancing parenting skills, using psychotherapy to reduce cognitive symptoms in parents, and ensuring access to psychiatric, social, educational, and legal resources.

However, they said, “[S]ystematic research is needed to examine the impact of such interventions on preventing psychopathology and functional disability, as well as its cost-effectiveness.”

For more in Psychiatric News about young people at risk for schizophrenia, see "Early Intervention Trial in Youth at Risk for Psychosis Shows Improved Symptoms."

--aml   (Image: Marcin Pawinski/


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