Course of patients diagnosed as having schizophrenia during first episode occurring under age 18 years

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Of 118 child and adolescent schizophrenic patients (ICD-9: 295.x; mean onset age 16.0 years), 97 (82.2%) could be completely investigated at follow-up (mean interval 7.4 years; mean age 23.1 years). At followup 30% of the patients were semidependent or dependent, 72% still required psychiatric treatment, 44% were at least moderately impaired with regard to educational/occupational functions and 58% with regard to social functions; 73% had experienced at least one further schizophrenic episode. Comparison with schizophrenia beginning in adulthood showed that the impairment in social function was much greater in the younger group of patients. These results support the belief that schizophrenic psychoses starting in adolescence have a worse outcome than those beginning in adulthood. The most efficient indicators for a worse outcome were long duration of inpatient treatment at first admission, a high number of symptoms and low social competence at discharge.