Siblings of Schizophrenic Kids May Have Resilience to Condition

When it comes to schizophrenia, key differences in brain development could allow siblings of kids with the condition to grow up with a resilience to the illness.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne and the National Institute of Health in the U.S. found that siblings of children with childhood-onset schizophrenia had similar delays in brain connectivity as their brothers and sisters. However, these abnormalities appeared to normalize as the siblings got older - while the abnormalities in children with schizophrenia became worse.

"We've looked at the development of brain networks over the adolescent period, from childhood to early adulthood," said lead study author Dr. Andrew Zalesky. "Abnormalities detected early in the unaffected children normalize by age 16."

Biological factors

This "resilience" to schizophrenia in siblings could provide important clues about future treatments for the condition, Zalesky said.

"The greatest risk for schizophrenia is family history, but the majority of siblings of individuals with the disorder are unaffected," he explained.

By developing drugs that would be administered in early intervention strategies, it's possible researchers can improve a child's resistance to developing the condition, according to co-author Christos Pantellis.

"This is an interesting new direction," Pantellis said, "as it suggests the search for targeted psychiatric treatments for schizophrenia and psychosis requires following young people over time."

The research is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: University of Melbourne

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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