NEW YORK—Seven-year-old children at familial high risk (FHR) of schizophrenia have “widespread neurocognitive impairments” and should be monitored to prevent transition to psychosis, researchers say.
Dr. Nicoline Hemager of Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark, Kildegaardsvej and colleagues studied 514 seven-year-olds (46% girls), including 197 children with FHR schizophrenia, 118 with FHR bipolar disorder, and 199 matched controls.
Children were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS), and various neurocognitive function tests.
As reported online June 20 in JAMA Psychiatry, compared with the control group, the FHR schizophrenia group exhibited significantly more problem behavior (mean CBCL score 27.2 vs. 17.0) and significantly lower functioning (mean CGAS score, 68.1 vs. 77.7).
In the FHR bipolar group, the problem behavior score (mean, 23.4) and functional score (mean, 73.6) were in between the scores of the other study groups, and differed significantly from the control group on both scores and from the FHR schizophrenia group on the CGAS score.
Children with FHR schizophrenia were significantly impaired compared with controls on processing speed and working memory, executive and visuospatial functions, and declarative memory and attention. Further, they performed significantly worse on these tests than the FHR bipolar disorder group.
In contrast, there were no differences between FHR bipolar children and controls on these functions.