Highrisk Indicators

In addition to aiding efforts to understand the genetic diathesis of schizophrenia, investigations of children with a schizophrenic parent have helped to elucidate other potential predictors, some of which were mentioned previously. While useful, such efforts have been challenging primarily because so much about schizophrenia is still unknown. Early theories proposed between 1940 and 1970 emphasized family patterns in the aetiology of schizophrenia. The so-called ''schizophrenogenic life experience'' and the ''schizophrenogenic mother,'' initially proposed by Fromm-Reichmann [55], later evolved into the ''schizophrenogenic family'' [56,57]. These theories primarily focused on poor, inadequate and harsh parenting and confusing communication patterns as precursors. Although the concept of the schizophrenogenic parent is now largely rejected, stressful rearing environments do appear to influence aetiology. The latter may be particularly relevant to children being raised by a schizophrenic parent.

While several possible predictors have been proposed to identify individuals at risk, none of these variables seems specific enough to be highly accurate. Despite this, identifying potential indicators, even if their predictive accuracy is modest, has provided further evidence for the neurodevelopmental hypothesis and has shed light on several environmental and biobehavioural markers that, in conjunction with certain anomalous genes, may be involved in the aetiology of schizophrenia. Proposed predictors include children's social skills, personality variables, family variables, and obstetric complications. Biobehavioural markers, such as motor dysfunction, brain imaging anomalies and attention deviance have also been studied. Each of these variables will be briefly reviewed in the context of high-risk children. More extensive reviews have been published elsewhere [58-63].

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