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Early-Onset Schizophrenia1

Remschmidt H.a · Theisen F.b
aDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Philipps University, Marburg, and bDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Herz-Jesu-Krankenhaus, Fulda, Germany Neuropsychobiology 2012;66:63–69 (DOI:10.1159/000338548)


The available study findings on the course and outcome of schizophrenia beginning in childhood or adolescence can be summarized as follows. (1) Schizophrenic psychoses that arise before the age of 13 have a very poor prognosis. The disease usually continues to progress in adolescence and adulthood. It can be diagnosed with the same criteria that are used for adults. (2) Patients whose disease is of acute onset, with productive schizophrenic manifestations such as hallucinations and delusions (positive manifestations), have a better prognosis than those whose disease begins insidiously and takes an unfavorable course, with depressive states and continually worsening impairment of cognitive function. (3) The patient’s premorbid personality plays a major role. Patients who were described as socially active, intelligent, and integrated children and adolescents before they became ill have a better prognosis than those who were intellectually impaired, timid, introverted and uncommunicative before they became ill. (4) The prognosis seems to be better for patients who have no family history of schizophrenia, those whose families cooperate well, and those whose condition improves rapidly during inpatient treatment. (5) The few available studies on the course and outcome of schizophrenia beginning in childhood and early adolescence confirm that they are much worse than in adult-onset schizophrenia. (6) A 42-year longitudinal study of patients with childhood-onset schizophrenia revealed their suicide rate to be higher than that of patients with adult-onset schizophrenia. No further longitudinal studies are available to confirm this finding.


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