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“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.
“What we’ve done is move the idea of paternal age and new genetic mutations in regard to schizophrenia from the category of ‘It-couldn’t-possibly-be’ to the ‘There’s-a-remarkable-association’ category,” says Malaspina. “This is a remarkably complicated disease.”
Statistically, a child fathered by a man older than age 40 has a one in 200 chance of having a genetic abnormality — not just schizophrenia. Consider this: While men make sperm throughout their lifetime, the older the man is the more gene mutations (or changes in the DNA code) there may be in his sperm because the sperm producing cells have had to duplicate so many times.
For years, women have been alarmed by ticking biological clocks and limited-shelf-life-eggs, while men have neither nagging clocks nor expiration dates stamped on their sperm. They have all the reproductive time in the world.
Four Simple Ways To Begin
Here are a few suggestions to help start your family’s spiritual journey:
Trust and teach that all life is connected and has a purpose — When children trust that all life has a purpose, they respect and appreciate themselves and the people around them. Kindness, empathy, compassion and love grow from appreciation and respect, and create more of both in turn. A 7-year-old girl told me, “I saved up all my change for months and months, then rolled it up and gave it to a lady who needed help with all the stray cats she was looking after. She had 58 hungry cats with no homes. I felt happy to help those cats.”
Personal spirituality has become a hot topic and now psychologists are examining the spirituality of the family — how a set of shared beliefs can help families weather a crisis. It’s easy for hectic schedules to eliminate any time for such reflection, but unearthing and nourishing the spirit of your family can have transformational results.
The option of doing a clinical trial “makes decisions a little more complicated. Otherwise, all you’d have to consider are the standard treatments,” Finn said.
What can happen, Finn said, is that a person has a serious illness, is very worried and hears that there is an experimental treatment under investigation. Handed an informed consent form, the patient may be quick to say, “OK, doc, where do I sign?” Finn said. Instead of rushing into it, he said to read the informed consent form very carefully, ask lots and lots of questions, think it over, talk to knowledgeable family members and friends, and consider getting a second medical opinion.
Patricia Hentschel is a nurse practitioner and project director at the Stony Brook branch of STAR, a nationwide study of more than 20,000 women to compare the benefits of tamoxifen and raloxifene in the prevention of breast cancer in women who are at high risk.