Older Fathers, Schizophrenic Children. Part 4
“Schizophrenia is not hard to diagnose in adults,” says McKenna. “It’s more difficult to diagnose in children because the symptoms are harder to distinguish. They can often masquerade as developmental problems or other disorders. Children may suffer more severely with schizophrenia if they have an early onset.
“Of those patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, many respond to medications. Some do well with support and some don’t,” says McKenna. She adds that Malaspina’s work gives researchers more to consider in their search for the cause of schizophrenia.
“This is very exciting because it has given us different ways to interpret information and a different way of looking at this disease,” says McKenna. “Schizophrenia is a very isolating disease. There’s a stigma that schizophrenics need to be hidden away and kept away from society. The fact is that genetic mutations happen all the time. We’re all vulnerable to them. Schizophrenia is not the fault of the schizophrenic.”
For some, the idea that a genetic mutation can cause a vulnerability to the disease may offer some comfort — even vindication. For years, scientists believed schizophrenia was caused by a negative family environment. “Most often, the mother was blamed for being a bad parent,” says Malaspina, whose sister has schizophrenia. Malaspina became a doctor specifically to research the disease.
“Now we see a very strong genetic component to this condition. And if we can identify that gene, it will tell us so much,” Malaspina says. “It might even help us minimize this disease.”
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