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What causes schizophrenia in children?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
It is unclear why symptoms of schizophrenia start in childhood for some people. Scientists agree that schizophrenia is caused by abnormal functions in the brain. Scientists don't know exactly why some people develop schizophrenia, but it does appear to run in families. According to the Mayo Clinic, our genes and environment interact, which can cause some members of a family to have schizophrenia but not others. Scientists are studying whether the following experiences might increase one's risk of developing schizophrenia:

• Exposure to viruses while in the womb
• Being malnourished while in the womb
• Stress during early childhood, such as abuse or trauma
• Children whose fathers are older
• Using drugs as a young teenager

Most people don’t show signs of schizophrenia until their late teenage or young adult years, but according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 100 people who have schizophrenia develop it as a child.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.