Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Factors Differentiating Childhood-Onset and Adolescent-Onset Schizophrenia

A new research study that may be of interest to families. The message seems to be to seek out treatment aggressively as early as possible for any and all neurodevelopmental problems a child has.


The greater severity and burden of illness in individuals with early onset schizophrenia (ie, before age 18 years) deserves further investigation, specifically regarding its prevalence in community-based treatment and its association with other psychiatric or medical conditions.


Early onset schizophrenia was diagnosed in 613 child and adolescent cases during the study epoch or 0.2% of this population-based cohort.

The early onset cohort was primarily male (64%) and black (48%). Within the early onset cohort, 22.5% were diagnosed at age ≤ 12 years and 77.5% were diagnosed as adolescents.

The childhood-onset subgroup was twice as likely to have speech, language, or educational disabilities and an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis but significantly less likely to have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, an organic brain disorder or mental retardation/intellectual disability, or a substance use disorder compared to the adolescent-onset subgroup.

Primary care providers should identify and maintain surveillance of cases of pediatric neurodevelopmental disorders, which appear to be highly comorbid and genetically related, and refer them early and promptly for specialized treatment.