OBJECTIVE: The authors examined whether motor coordination difficulties assessed in childhood predict later adult schizophrenia spectrum outcomes. METHOD: A standardized childhood neurological examination was administered to a sample of 265 Danish children in 1972, when participants were 10-13 years old. Adult diagnostic information was available for 244 members of the sample. Participants fell into three groups: children whose mothers or fathers had a psychiatric hospital diagnosis of schizophrenia (N=94); children who had at least one parent with a psychiatric record of hospitalization for a nonpsychotic disorder (N=84); and children with no parental records of psychiatric hospitalization (N=66). Psychiatric outcomes of the offspring were assessed through psychiatric interviews in 1992 when participants were 31-33 years of age, as well as through a scan of national psychiatric registers completed in May 2007. RESULTS: Children who later developed a schizophrenia spectrum disorder (N=32) displayed significantly higher scores on a scale of coordination deficits compared with those who did not develop a mental illness in this category (N=133). CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study provide further support for the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia and underscore the potential role of cerebellar and/or basal ganglia abnormalities in the etiology and pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
Keywords: Adult; Basal Ganglia; Cerebellum; Child; Child of Impaired Parents; Denmark; Fathers; Female; Hospitalization; Hospitals, Psychiatric; Humans; Male; Mental Disorders; Mothers; Motor Skills Disorders; Neurologic Examination; Psychiatric Status Rating Scales; Schizophrenia; Schizophrenic Psychology