Woodberry KA, Serur RA, Hallinan SB, Mesholam-Gately RI, Giuliano AJ, Wojcik JD, Keshavan MS, Frazier JA, Goldstein JM, Shenton ME, McCarley RW, Seidman LJ
Schizophr. Res. 2014 Sep;158(1-3):45-51
BACKGROUND: Psychosis prevention and early intervention efforts in schizophrenia have focused increasingly on sub-threshold psychotic symptoms in adolescents and young adults. Although many youth report symptom onset prior to adolescence, the childhood incidence of prodromal-level symptoms in those with schizophrenia or related psychoses is largely unknown.
METHODS: This study reports on the retrospective recall of prodromal-level symptoms from 40 participants in a first-episode of schizophrenia (FES) and 40 participants at “clinical high risk” (CHR) for psychosis. Onset of positive and non-specific symptoms was captured using the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes. Frequencies are reported according to onset during childhood (prior to age 13), adolescence (13-17), or adulthood (18+).
RESULTS: Childhood-onset of attenuated psychotic symptoms was not rare. At least 11% of FES and 23% of CHR reported specific recall of childhood-onset of unusual or delusional ideas, suspiciousness, or perceptual abnormalities. Most recalled experiencing non-specific symptoms prior to positive symptoms. CHR and FES did not differ significantly in the timing of positive and non-specific symptom onset. Other than being younger at assessment, those with childhood onset did not differ demographically from those with later onset.
CONCLUSION: Childhood-onset of initial psychotic-like symptoms may be more common than previous research has suggested. Improved characterization of these symptoms and a focus on their predictive value for subsequent schizophrenia and other major psychoses are needed to facilitate screening of children presenting with attenuated psychotic symptoms. Accurate detection of prodromal symptoms in children might facilitate even earlier intervention and the potential to alter pre-illness trajectories.