Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia: A Followup Study

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This article is an overview of our studies of childhood-onset schizophrenia. Data are presented demonstrating that (1) the majority of the sample showed continuing schizophrenia as they progressed through adolescence; (2) there was considerable variability in outcome, defined by global adjustment scores, with 56 percent of the sample showing improvement in functioning during a 2- to 7-year followup period and the other 44 percent showing minimal improvement or a deteriorating course; (3) schizophrenia in childhood could be diagnosed by the same criteria used for adults and was associated with severe dysfunction; and (4) some intrafamilial attributes found to be associated with schizophrenia in adults were also associated with schizophrenia in children, but there were some differences in the family environmental correlates of childhood- and later-onset schizophrenia. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that childhood- and later-onset schizophrenia represent the same illness or illnesses. Additional research is needed, however, to clarify the etiologic and clinical significance of the atypical early onset in childhood cases.

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