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Stable Neurodevelopment Seen for Most Children With Familial High Risk for Schizophrenia

12.8 percent of children with familial high risk for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder transition to different neurocognitive subgroup

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Most children at familial high risk for schizophrenia (FHR-SZ) or bipolar disorder (FHR-BP) have stable neurocognitive development, but some transition to a different, usually more impaired, subgroup, according to a study published online Oct. 6 in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Christina Bruun Knudsen, from Aarhus University Hospital-Psychiatry in Denmark, and colleagues examined transitions between neurocognitive subgroups among children at FHR-SZ or FHR-BP from age 7 to 11 years in a latent profile analysis that was used to identify subgroups at two assessments based on performance of 320 children across eight neurocognitive functions. Temporal stability in subgroup membership was examined. A reference group of population-based controls was included (199 at age 7 years; 178 at age 11 years).

The researchers identified three subgroups based on neurocognitive performance at both time points: moderately-to-severely impaired, mildly impaired, and above-average subgroups. Overall, 12.8 percent of children transitioned to a different subgroup; 85.2 percent transitioned to a more impaired subgroup. Children transitioning to a more impaired subgroup were differentiated from nontransitioning children by a parental diagnosis of schizophrenia, but not by parental diagnosis of bipolar disorder, global functioning at age 7 years, psychopathology, or sex.

“Most children remained in their subgroup at follow-up, showing stable neurocognitive development from age 7 to 11,” the authors write. “However, a substantial minority of children changed subgroup membership, of which almost all transitions were to a more impaired subgroup, indicating developmental lags.”

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