Looking at Intergenerational Risk Factors in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: New Frontiers for Early Vulnerability Identification?

Michele Poletti, Eva Gebhardt, Lorenzo Pelizza, Antonio Preti, Andrea Raballo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Offspring of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) constitute a special population with a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders, which is also highly prevalent among referrals to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). They often exhibit more or less subclinical conditions of vulnerability, fueled by mutually potentiating combinations of risk factors, such as presumed genetic risk, poor or inadequate affective and cognitive parenting, and low socio-economic status. Despite this evidence, neither specific preventive programs for offspring of parents with SMI are usually implemented in CAMHS, nor dedicated supportive programs for parenting are generally available in adult mental health services (AMHS). Needless to say, while both service systems tend to focus on individual recovery and clinical management (rather than on the whole family system), these blind spots add up to frequent gaps in communication and continuity of care between CAMHS and AMHS. This is particularly problematic in an age-range in which an offspring's vulnerabilities encounter the highest epidemiological peak of incident risk of SMI. This paper offers a clinical-conceptual perspective aimed to disentangle the complex intertwine of intergenerational risk factors that contribute to the risk of developing SMI in offspring, taking schizophrenia spectrum disorders as a paradigmatic example.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566683
JournalFront. Psychiatry
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

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