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Childhood Schizophrenia

The Child Advocate is devoted to children and the parents and professionals that work with them and advocate for them. Childhood Schizophrenia is a relatively rare but serious disorder that is as yet poorly understood. This information is presented with links to other sites that may offer additional insights. The information presented at this site is for general use only and is not intended to provide personal advice or substitute for the advice of a qualified professional. If you have questions about the information presented here, please consult a physician, the resources listed or other professional in your area.


Childhood Schizophrenia Brain Findings

Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia: Structural Brain Abnormalities  Courtney Dawson  Penn State College of Medicine 2003   Basic information regarding childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS): Onset of psychosis by age 12 (2) Rare à 1/50 the prevalence of later-onset disease (1) Insidious rather than episodic onset (7) Continuing severe illness in about ½ of the cases (7) Psychotic symptomatology prior to the completion of normal brain maturation (9)   A retrospective study (17 subjects) conducted at the University of Colorado looked at premorbid and prodromal diagnostic features of COS (8): 65% reported problems is school as the initial symptom 59% reported 1st sign of psychotic symptoms between 5-10 years of age Average age of 1st clinical diagnosis of COS or schizoaffective disorder reported as 10.5 years of age Significant lag time between initial symptoms and a concrete clinical diagnosis   Neurodevelopmental Hypothesis of Schizophrenia: Brain “lesion” is present early in life but does not manifest itself until late in adolescence or early adulthood (6)   Underlying brain pathology presents differently at different ages: 1) Global delays in motor and possibly language development 2) Nonspecific attentional and behavioral dysfunction 3) Clinically identifiable thought disorder 4) Development of the full clinical syndrome as the brain matures   COS subjects had an increased incidence of speech and motor abnormalities prior to the onset of psychosis à possible indication of earlier brain developmental abnormalities   Current research focused on structural changes in COS: (9) Most of the research has been conducted by Rapoport and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health, most are prospective studies involving 15-75 COS subjects with initial MRI scans and follow-up scans at...

Childhood Schizophrenia Summary

 Childhood Schizophrenia Contributed by Melissa Yates Penn State College of Medicine   Definition:            –                Same diagnostic criteria apply to children, adolescents, and adults –                Based on characteristic symptoms, deficits in adaptive functioning, and duration of six months General Characteristics:    Incidence of childhood schizophrenia is less than 1/10,000 births Slight male predominance Less educated and professionally successful families Patients have low-average to average range of intelligence Patterns of behavior before a formal diagnosis: attention/conduct problems, earlier patterns of inhibition, withdrawal and sensitivity Disease is rarely observed before age 5 80% of children have auditory hallucinations; 50% have delusional beliefs Can be observed with additional conditions such as: conduct disorder, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and autism Poor prognosis if onset before age 10 with above personality difficulties   Since 1990 there has been an ongoing study of childhood onset schizophrenia (COS) of 49 patients at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) which most of the following findings are based on.   Findings before a Formal Diagnosis is made6:    based on 49 treatment refractory patients at NIMH (patients that did not respond to conventional therapy currently available for schizophrenia) – 55% had language abnormalities – 57% had motor abnormalities – 55% had social abnormalities – 3% either failed a grade or required placement in special education – overall poor neuropsychological functioning in attention, working memory and executive function (i.e. making and carrying out appropriate decisions on a day to day basis) – findings were more striking than those in adult patients which indicates a more severe early disruption of brain development in COS – also indicates greater familial vulnerability (possibly a...