heritability of schizophrenia

Irina Razin razin at oclc.org
Fri May 24 08:26:20 EST 1996

mbmiller at SIRRONALD.WUSTL.EDU (Mike Miller) wrote:
> On Mon, 20 May 1996, Irina Razin wrote (regarding schizophrenia in both
> families of a man and women considering marriage):
> > They haven't actually gotten married yet, and this genetic problem is
> > important for their decision.
> > 
> > Father's side: his grandfather's son (from another woman, NOT from his
> > grandmother) is very seriously ill. The grandfather himself is not
> > really ill and was very successful in life (was managing a 100 people
> > company), but in private life he is very annoying and has obsessive
> > ideas. Both the father in question and his grandfather are half-Jewish
> > (I heard that it matters).
> > 
> > This grandfather is on the mother's side.
> > 
> > Mother's side: her younger brother got schizoaffective disorder (has not
> > yet been diagnozed with real schizophrenia), and also her
> > great-grandfather (mother's grandfather) was ill. The mother herself is
> > smart and successful academically but is a little strange. She is also
> > half-Jewish.
> > 
> > The question is, how likely their children are to be affected.
> Second, you did not mention the man's mental health, but you said that the
> woman is "a little strange."  Perhaps you consider the man to be not
> strange.  The mental health of the man and woman is surely more important
> for prediction of mental health of their child than is the mental
> health of their other relatives.

Sorry for my omission. The man is  more or less OK, he is  a 
moderately successful computer consultant and appears to be balanced.

Thank you for your other comments, I realized that an exact estimate is not
possible. It sounds like the danger is not extremely high though.

Thanks to other participants of this very friendly group.


> As I said before, it is not really possible to make a probability
> statement without use of some model of transmission.  We also know very
> little about the behavior of the affected people and have to rely on your
> diagnoses.
> It sounds like the offspring of this potential marriage would have a
> maternal uncle with schizoaffective disorder, a maternal great-great-
> grandfather who "was ill," and a paternal half granduncle who was
> "severely ill."  His/her parents would seem to be well, but his/her mom
> might be "a little strange."  Most of these ill relatives are fairly
> distant ones and don't add much, if anything, to the risk of psychosis.
> The schizoaffective maternal uncle contributes most to the risk, but the
> mom is not ill, so that contribution is not as strong as the doubling of
> risk (from 1% to 2%) usually observed in the nieces and nephews of someone
> with schizophrenia.
> It is a very inexact science, but I would advise that they not worry over
> the possibility that they might have a schizophrenic child.  They are not
> mentally ill themselves and most of their ill relatives are distant ones. 
> The risk to their children is not great.
> Michael B. Miller, M.S., Ph.D., M.P.E.
> Department of Psychiatry (Box 8134)
> Washington University School of Medicine
> 4940 Children's Place,  St. Louis, MO 63110
> WWW Homepage: ftp://sirronald.wustl.edu/pub/mbmiller/mike.htm

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