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December 1997

The New York High-Risk Project: Prevalence and Comorbidity of Axis I Disorders in Offspring of Schizophrenic Parents at 25-Year Follow-up

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medical Genetics (Drs Erlenmeyer-Kimling and Squires-Wheeler and Mss Adamo, Roberts, and Pape) and Research Assessment and Training (Dr Endicott), New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Erlenmeyer-Kimling, Squires-Wheeler, and Endicott) and Genetics and Development (Dr Erlenmeyer-Kimling), College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and the Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein School of Medicine (Dr Cornblatt), New York, NY; Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ (Dr Rock); Queen Street Mental Health Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario (Dr Bassett); and the Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Dr Gottesman).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(12):1096-1102. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830240052008

Background:  The New York High-Risk Project is a study of offspring of patients with schizophrenia (HRSz group) or affective illness (HRAff group) and psychiatrically normal parents (NC group) observed prospectively from childhood to adulthood. We herein present lifetime prevalence and comorbidity rates of Axis 1 disorders in subjects and their siblings from sample A of the project.

Methods:  Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia—Lifetime Version interviews conducted with the offspring in adulthood were used to obtain diagnoses of Axis I disorders.

Results:  Schizophrenia and unspecified psychoses occurred only in the HRSz group. However, schizoaffective and psychotic affective disorders occurred equally in the HRSz and HRAff groups. Total rates of psychosis in these groups were significantly higher than in the NC group. All groups had similar rates of nonpsychotic affective and substance abuse disorders. The HRAff group, however, had significantly more total affective illness than the NC group and tended to have more anxiety disorders than the other groups. Comorbidity rates in the HRSz and HRAff groups were nearly twice those of the NC group.

Conclusions:  The familial liabilities to schizophrenia and affective disorders show specificities and commonalities, differing markedly from each other in their expression of some disorders and sharing others. Patterns of comorbidity are generally, although not entirely, similar to these liabilities.

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