Children of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were more likely to have mental health problems by age 7 years, according to data presented at the International Early Psychosis Association meeting.
“For decades, familial high-risk studies have informed us about genetic and environmental risk factors for schizophrenia and recently also bipolar disorder. Familial high-risk studies are important and relevant and may represent a possible shortcut to learning more about early markers of illness, mental vulnerability and resilience.” Anne Thorup, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues wrote.
Researchers conducted the Danish High Risk and Resilience study, “VIA 7,” a prospective cohort study of 522 children, of whom 202 were born with at least one parent diagnosed with schizophrenia and 120 were born with at least one parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Children were aged 7 years at study enrollment.
Children born to parents with schizophrenia (27.2) or bipolar disorder (23.5) had poorer Child Behavior Checklist scores, compared with children with parents without these diagnoses (17.1).
Children born to parents with schizophrenia had increased risk for anxiety, ADHD and stress/adjustment disorder, and were more likely to exhibit neurocognitive problems or delays and have families with lower social status and higher risk for adverse life events.
“Results from the first assessment in VIA 7 indicate that many children and families have unmet needs and problems,” Thorup and colleagues wrote. “Perspectives are two-fold: we aim to follow the cohort and conduct a new assessment before puberty, at age 11. Simultaneously, we are evolving an early, integrated, specialized and family based intervention, called VIA Family, to prevent or ameliorate development of severe mental illness in individuals born to parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.” – by Amanda Oldt
Thorup A, et al. Familial high risk studies — Why are they still relevant? The Danish high risk and resilience study — Status, results and perspectives. Presented at: International Early Psychosis Association Annual Meeting; Oct. 20-22, 2016; Milan.
Disclosure: Healio.com/Psychiatry could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.