Increased number of offspring in first degree relatives of psychotic individuals: A partial explanation for the persistence of psychotic illnesses

Department of Psychiatry, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 5.61). 06/2009; 119(6):466-71. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2008.01332.x
Source: PubMed


As patients with psychotic illness have fewer offspring than controls, the persistence of psychotic illness is puzzling. We hypothesized that unaffected first-degree relatives of patients have more offspring than controls.
Probands were 4904, individuals with non-affective psychotic disorders identified from a hospitalization registry. Unaffected first degree relatives and matched controls were identified from the Israeli Population Registry. The number of offspring of unaffected parents, biological siblings and controls was ascertained.
Unaffected parents of psychotic patients had more offspring/person than controls; 4.5 +/- 2.7 vs. 3.4 +/- 2.2, P = 0.000. Unaffected parents from familial psychosis families (more than one affected family member) had 1.83 more offspring than controls; unaffected parents from non-familial psychosis families had 0.97 more offspring than controls (both P < 0.001).
These findings might imply that genes which increase susceptibility for schizophrenia may be associated with increased number of offspring, perhaps supplying a partial explanation for the persistence of psychosis.

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    • "Our findings are consistent with previous findings that individuals with schizophrenia have fewer children compared to the general population (Howard et al., 2002; Haukka et al., 2003; Svensson et al., 2007; MacCabe et al., 2009; Weiser et al., 2009; Bundy et al., 2011). Specifically, a meta-analysis that included 6 published studies from previous years demonstrated that individuals (men and women) with schizophrenia have 40% fewer children than unaffected individuals (Bundy et al., 2011). "

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    • "Attenuated forms of psychotic symptoms are found in up to 10% of the general population, with difficulty finding a cutting off from normality. Many authors assumed that these attenuated symptoms are predicting later development of psychosis (Poulton et al., 2000; Weiser et al., 2009) depending on demographic factors, environment risk factors, cognitive and motor deficits, family co-clustering and gene risk (Van Os et al., 2000; Henquet et al., 2005; Krabbendam et al., 2005). The relationship between psychotic experiences and affective symptoms was examined in a German prospective cohort community study (Van Rossum et al., 2009). "
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