Developmental and Cultural Considerations of Childhood Onset Schizophrenia

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Developmental and Cultural Consideration of Childhood Schizophrenia

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown but one of the developmental issues for the disease of schizophrenia is its high transmission rate through the genes of the parent to the child (Addington, 2007). It is estimated that as much as 85%, of the people worldwide who have the disease, get it through inheritance (Addington, 2007). Studies have been done on the genetic make-up of the disease using a gene reproduction approach (Addington, 2007). The introductory reports of genetic inheritance came through research by Stefansson, when Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) was identified as a developmental risk factor on chromosome 8p12 (Steffansson, Sigurdsson, Steinthorsdottir, Bjornsdottir, Sigmundsson & Ghosh, 2002). Neuregulin 1 is a molecule that signals or controls neural development, and if it is not performing normally, it can become a risk in the development of schizophrenia. (Steffansson, Sigurdsson, Steinthorsdottir, Bjornsdottir, Sigmundsson & Ghosh, 2002). If a person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia there is a seven to nine percent chance that he or she will have a sibling that is diagnosed with the disease (Cobert, 2010). According to Kearney, “Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has biological bases in genetic predispositions, prenatal events, and brain and biochemical changes” (Kearney, 2013, p. 180).
Another developmental issue is the idea of schizophrenia being caused by a virus. The theory states that a woman subjected to viruses during the second trimester of pregnancy puts the child at risk for development of the disease (Cobert, 2010). One of the reasons for this thinking comes from the flu epidemic of 1918 when there was an increase of schizophrenia flu patients (Cobert, 2010). Other viral suspects considered are, Cytomegalic, Herpes 1 and 2, Epstein-Barr, and Human Retroviruses have been suggested as having a roll to play in schizophrenia (Cobert, 2010). Cobert goes on the say that the evidence is lacking for virus as being a cause for schizophrenia (Cobert, 2010, p. 48).
The psychotic quality of schizophrenia can develop in several ways. The prodromal or introductory phase is marked by a decline in behavior over a period of months. After the prodromal phase there is an active or more intense stage of delusions or hallucinations that occur. Following treatment for the disease there is a residual phase where the person returns to an improved behavior levels (Kearney, 2013). According to the DSM 5 the same features that accompany adult or adolescent schizophrenia are found in child onset schizophrenia but are more challenging to diagnose.

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