Navigation Links
Team finds childhood clues to adult schizophrenia

DURHAM, N.C. Years before adults develop schizophrenia, there is a pattern of cognitive difficulties they experience as children, including problems with verbal reasoning, working memory, attention and processing speed.

Drawing on a long-term study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders born from 1972 to 1973, a team led by Duke researchers has found a consistent pattern of developmental difficulties that first appeared when adult study subjects with schizophrenia were 7 years old.

"The proportion of kids who don't score well on these tests is big, and the number of kids who develop schizophrenia is tiny," said study co-author Terrie E. Moffitt, the Knut Schmidt Nielsen professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. But now that the study subjects are in their late 30s and mental illnesses have been identified, "we looked backwards to understand more about how schizophrenia may develop."

By age 32, 1 percent of the study participants met the formal criteria for schizophrenia and had been hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medication. Another 2.5 percent met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, but hadn't received treatment.

Knowing what they know now, the researchers were able to track the progress of these cognitive deficits as the subjects went through testing at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 as part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

"These kids are lagging behind to begin with and they continue to fall behind," said study co-author Richard Keefe, director of Duke's Schizophrenia Research Group. Their verbal skills are initially poor, and then they develop other problems along the way, including difficulties with memory and verbal processing, key factors in learning.

For each year between the ages of 7 and 13, the children who later received a diagnosis of schizophrenia lost between 0.17 and 0.26 years in mental age when compared with the other children.

Two patterns emerged: The children who developed adult schizophrenia had early deficits in verbal and visual learning, reasoning and conceptualization that remained with them as they grew. They also showed slower development than their peers in processing speed, attention, visual-spatial problem-solving and working memory. The data argues against one theory that schizophrenia stems from a deterioration of cognitive abilities. The minds of these children grew, they just didn't grow as well.

Adults with schizophrenia have been known to lag about 8 points behind the average person in IQ tests, but this study puts a finer point on where and how they might differ. The article will appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry and was published online Jan. 4.

How or why schizophrenia later develops is still a mystery, but this new evidence provides some valuable clues, said co-author Avshalom Caspi, the Edward M. Arnett Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. It's possible that a child who struggles to make sense of the world becomes more socially isolated or more delusional, Caspi said. "How does a brain that's ill-equipped to deal with novel sensations deal with the stresses of adolescence?"

With this new evidence in hand, it may be tempting to try to somehow prevent schizophrenia by treating younger patients with anti-psychotic medications, said Keefe. But you'd be treating 20 percent of kids to prevent the 1 percent occurrence of schizophrenia, meaning 19 patients were treated unnecessarily, risking side effects.

"Of course, eventually we hope we'd be able to intervene, maybe even without drugs," Keefe said. Knowing more about the early clues to schizophrenia could lead to better studies of possible cognitive interventions, he said.

The findings suggest that adult psychosis doesn't just emerge fully-formed. It probably comes from a developmental process. "What we think of as adult psychiatric disorders have their roots much earlier in life," Caspi said.


Contact: Karl Leif Bates
Duke University

Related medicine news :

1. Study finds face masks and hand hygiene can help limit influenzas spread
2. Herpes medication does not reduce risk of HIV transmission, UW-led international study finds
3. Employer Satisfaction With Health Insurers Is Declining, Finds PricewaterhouseCoopers Study
4. Employer Satisfaction with Health Insurers is Declining, Finds PricewaterhouseCoopers Study
5. Zambian study finds longer breastfeeding best for HIV-infected mothers
6. Study Finds More Than One Third of Parents Experience Traumatic Stress One Month After Childs Injury
7. Few breast cancer surgeons follow quality of care standards, U-M study finds
8. American Journal of Sports Medicine Study Finds Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Can Improve Pain Relief and Shoulder Function
9. Pot and pop: New research finds stronger link between music and marijuana use among teens
10. Poll finds 3/4 of parents who tried to get H1N1 vaccine for their children have gotten it
11. New Commonwealth Fund survey of young adults finds wide majority support health reform
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Somerset Hills is proud ... and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed event will raise funds and ... the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, November 4 (10:00 a.m. – ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at ... of the most popular and least understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The ... that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off as mere rubbish, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains ... possible to save lost souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to ... dedicated teacher of the Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches a ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... CitiDent and ... apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many as 18 million Americans ... frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant relief to about 75 ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ... products, announced today the introduction of an innovative new design of the shoulder pad. ... so you get maximum comfort while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. By ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)... , Sept. 25, 2017   Montrium , ... File solutions, today—from the IQPC Trial Master Files ... , NL)—announced that EastHORN Clinical Services has selected ... programs and TMF management. EastHORN, a leading European ... platform to increase transparency to enable greater collaboration ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... 2017  As the latest Obamacare repeal effort moves ... (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) medical ... device industry is in an odd place.  The industry ... excise tax on medical device sales passed along with ... patients, increased visits and hospital customers with the funding ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... --  ZirMed Inc ., a recognized leader in cloud-based revenue ... been ranked #1 by its users for the seventh consecutive ... Survey. ZirMed was recognized as the top-ranked end-to-end revenue cycle ... over 200 beds and holds one of the longest #1 ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: