Maziade M, Gingras N, Rouleau N, Poulin S, Jomphe V, Paradis M-E, Mérette C, Roy M-A. Clinical diagnoses in young offspring from eastern Québec multigenerational families densely affected by schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
The follow-up since 1989 of a large sample of multigenerational families of eastern Québec that are densely affected by schizophrenia (SZ) or bipolar disorder (BP) has permitted to look at the rates of DSM diagnoses in the young offspring of a SZ parent (HRSZ) and of a BP parent (HRBP) who had an extremely loaded family history.
The sample (average age of 17.5, SD 4.5) consisted of 54 high-risk offspring (HR) having one parent affected by a DSM-IV SZ or BP. The parents descended from 21 multigenerational families that constitute a quasi-total sample of such kindred in eastern Québec. The HRs were administered a lifetime best estimate DSM-IV diagnosis.
We observed that the rates, the diversity of diagnoses, the high comorbidity, the severity and the age of onset of the clinical diagnoses tended to be similar with those already reported in the offspring of affected parents with a low familial loading. Although the sample size was small, HRSZ and HRBP also tended to show similarities in their clinical status.
Overall, taking into account methodological limitations, the observation early in life of some shared characteristics among HRSZ and HRBP in terms of non-psychotic diagnosis may be congruent with the accumulating evidence that several phenotypic features are shared in adulthood by the two major psychoses.
- Offspring at high genetic risk of major psychosis displayed early in life non-psychotic DSM disorders warranting a consultation.
- Various and highly comorbid disorders were observable in these offspring at extreme genetic risk.
- HRSZ and HRBP showed similarities in their clinical status.
- Normal control group from the general population was absent.
- Small sample size may have prevented detection of differences between HRSZ and HRBP.
- Caution is required before generalizing findings to the offspring of an ill parent from the general population.
Keywords: high-risk offspring, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, genetics, developmental precursor