Childhood-onset Schizophrenia - Overview

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

1.       Slight male predominance

2.       Less educated and professionally successful families

3.       Patients have low-average to average range of intelligence

4.       Patterns of behavior before a formal diagnosis:  attention/conduct problems, earlier patterns of inhibition, withdrawal and sensitivity

5.       Disease is rarely observed before age 5

6.       80% of children have auditory hallucinations; 50% have delusional beliefs

7.       Can be observed with additional conditions such as:  conduct disorder, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and autism

8.       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.

  For More information see the following link:    The Child Advocate - Childhood Schizophrenia Summary from which that above information was excerpted




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