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05 Jul 2005

Dear Doc

My son is now 4 years old. His father is a schitzophrenic but has no contact with my child. In fact, he has only seen him about 8 times his whole life of which the last time was about 2 years ago. I would like to know if my child could genetically inherit this from his father, and if so, what signs can i look out for? Is there a cure for this?
Answer 345 views

01 Jan 0001

There is a genetic element in schizophrenia. If your father had it, you have a higher risk of developing it --- mainly if crtain other not fully understood factors also point in the same direction --- than would someone with no schizophrenia in the family. But the risk is still small. It becomes more substantial if BOTH parents have schizophrenia, as you'd potentially get double the dose of the genetic risk. But still, most kids with BOTh parents schizoprenic, dotn't develop the illness. And most cases of schizophrenioa we see, have nobody in their family with the same illness.
So the rsk in your son's case is small. it wouldn't be affected by how often his father saw him or how much contact they had. But schizophrenics tend to have some difficulties in interpersonal relationships, so the father may not choose to get involved.
As for Jane's example, it doesn't specifically skip a generation ( some odd illnesses may do exactly that ) but though his three children are fine, which is quite normal, they might carry a smaller degree of schizophrenic risk on to the next generation, but very small.
As for signs to look for, that's hard to describe, as schizophrenia proper tends to show itself in the teens and twenties, though there are some far rarer forms which could show earlier. Maybe one might worry if the child had consistent difficulties in relating naturally towards other people and other children, or major difficulties in learning, but if there were ANY significant cause fo concern, one would want the child to see a good local child psychiatrist to assess the situation properly, and advise.
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