Advanced paternal age adds to risk of early-onset of schizophrenia in children

Previous studies have linked advanced paternal age with an increased risk of schizophrenia onset in children, however, it has been challenging to differentiate the effects of factors related to age versus the effects of age. The paternal age association could be unauthentic if late fatherhood was held responsible for the early onset on schizophrenia because this also reflected the father’s own susceptibility to schizophrenia.

On the other hand, an increased risk of early onset of schizophrenia in the child and late parenthood could also be contributed by maternal predisposition. The recent developments in technology have facilitated researchers in assessing the predisposition to schizophrenia through genotyping. In genotyping, the individual contribution to genetic variations linked with schizophrenia are combined throughout the entire genome that renders a polygenic risk score greatly assisting in forecasting the risk of developing the ailment.

Lead author, Dr. Wei J. Chen and team enrolled 1,600 patients with schizophrenia with the purpose of studying their polygenic score and predicting their risk of developing schizophrenia. These scores were studied to determine the estimation of paternal and maternal predisposition to the disorder. An increased polygenic risk of schizophrenia was found in males who had their first child at an advanced age.

Paternal age acts as independent factor in increasing risk of early-onset schizophrenia

The risk of early onset of schizophrenia in the progeny increased by nearly 30 percent for every 10-year delay in paternal age. Maternal age, however, was not found to be linked with the risk of early onset of schizophrenia. The current findings establish that paternal age acts as an independent factor in increasing the risk of early-onset schizophrenia in an offspring, which is not associated with the risk of other factors related to advanced parenthood.

Schizophrenia is a debilitating disease and a very severe form of the disorder connected to multiple genetic anomalies. When schizophrenia develops before 18 years of age, it is referred to as early-onset of schizophrenia. The study participants had healthy parents with no history of the disorder in the family. These sporadic cases of schizophrenia are believed to have stemmed from greater genetic mutations. Apparently, advanced age is linked to the accumulation of mutations which contributes to the risk of developing early-onset schizophrenia. Another difference that the authors noticed was that these age-related mutations seemed to be different from those that were commonly linked to the risk of developing the disorder. It is critical to uncover the varied neural mechanisms through which advanced paternal age influences the age at which the disorder develops.

Early-onset schizophrenia is treatable

Early-onset schizophrenia or childhood schizophrenia is a rare, yet a serious mental health disorder due to which children interpret reality unrealistically. Schizophrenia encompasses a host of complications with emotions, behavior, and cognition. It may give rise to delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking that may greatly hinder a child’s ability to function. Childhood and teen schizophrenia has an intense impact on their development and behavior. Early-age onset may also present challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder. Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder that necessitates lifetime treatment. Screening and initiating treatment in the initial phase may significantly improve a child’s long-term outcome.

If you or a loved one is battling any kind of mental health disorder or an addiction, feel free to reach out to us at the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. Call our 24/7 outpatient mental health helpline 855-653-8178 for more information about our research-backed mental health treatment programs. You can also chat online with a representative from the admissions team to learn more about our 24/7 outpatient mental health helpline center and the treatment modalities it offers for schizophrenia.