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Age at Onset in Schizophrenia and Risk of Illness in Relatives: Results from the Roscommon Family Study

  • Kenneth S. Kendler (a1), Laura Karkowski-Shuman (a2) and Dermot Walsh (a3)

Abstract

Background

For many common medical and neuropsychiatric disorders, early age at onset reflects high familial liability to illness. However, for schizophrenia, most studies do not find such a relationship.

Method

Using Cox proportional hazard models, we investigate this question in the epidemiologically-based Roscommon family study.

Results

No relationship was found between age at onset in schizophrenic probands and the hazard rate for schizophrenia in their relatives. Similar results were obtained when the definition of illness was expanded to include schizoaffective disorder and other non-affective psychoses.

Conclusions

For schizophrenia, a ‘common-sense’ model for age of onset (i.e. those with highest familial liability to illness succumb first while those with lower liability survive longer before falling ill) does not seem to apply. Our results are more consistent with a model in which variation in age at onset of schizophrenia is due to random developmental effects or to environmental experiences unique to the individual.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor K. S. Kendler, Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Box 980710, Richmond VA 23298-0710, USA

References

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Age at Onset in Schizophrenia and Risk of Illness in Relatives: Results from the Roscommon Family Study

  • Kenneth S. Kendler (a1), Laura Karkowski-Shuman (a2) and Dermot Walsh (a3)
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