It's not known what causes childhood schizophrenia, but it's thought that it develops in the same way as adult schizophrenia does. It's not clear why schizophrenia starts so early in life for some and not others.
Childhood schizophrenia and other forms of schizophrenia are brain disorders. Genetics and environment likely both play a role in causing schizophrenia.
Problems with certain naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters may contribute to childhood schizophrenia. Imaging studies show differences in the brain structure of people with schizophrenia, but the significance of these changes isn't clear.
Feb. 28, 2014
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Schizophrenia. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/complete-publication.shtml. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Fischer BA, et al. Schizophrenia: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Fischer BA, et al. Schizophrenia: Epidemiology and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Stroup TS, et al. Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Acute and maintenance phase treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- Mental illness and the family: Recognizing warning signs and how to cope. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/mi-and-the-family/recognizing-warning-signs-and-how-to-cope. Accessed May 16, 2013.
- Factsheet: Schizophrenia in children. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8F81-1372-4D20-C84C5539FAB14576. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- McClellan J, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2013;52:976.
- Facts for families: Schizophrenia in children. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Schizophrenia_In_Children_49.aspx. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- Staying well when you have a mental health condition. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/go/mental-health-month/staying-well-when-you-have-a-mental-illness. Accessed Sept. 13, 2013.
- Abidi S. Psychosis in children and youth: Focus on early-onset schizophrenia. Pediatrics in Review. 2013;34:296.
- Huxsahl JE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2013.