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Keywords:

  • genetic factors;
  • high-risk offspring;
  • Japanese;
  • prospective follow up;
  • schizophrenia

Aims:  Prospective follow-up studies of high-risk children may help clarify the etiological factors in schizophrenia. While studies from North America, Europe and Israel have estimated the risk of schizophrenia at 7–16% in the offspring of an affected parent, no data have been reported for Asian populations.

Method:  We started a follow up of the offspring of Japanese schizophrenia patients in 1978. We investigated the estimated risk of schizophrenia in 51 high-risk offspring at the 24-year follow up. The effects of the parents' status, including history of psychiatric hospitalization and social functioning, on the risk in the offspring were also investigated.

Results:  The cumulative incidence of schizophrenia was 13.7 % and the lifetime prevalence was estimated to be 13.5 ± 4.8%. The association between the psychiatric hospitalization in the probands and the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring was not significant, and the Global Assessment of Functioning score was significantly lower in the probands with a history of psychiatric hospitalization than in those without such a history.

Conclusions:  The risk of developing schizophrenia in Japanese high-risk offspring might be comparable with the Western results. The present study suggests that the severity of the disease or the level of social functioning may not significantly affect the risk in Japanese offspring.