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Age at onset

How is age at illness onset important to people with schizophrenia? 

Differences are observed in the age of onset of psychotic symptoms, which may be influenced by genetic or environmental risk factors, or sex. For example, although schizophrenia typically has an onset during late adolescence or early adulthood, research has shown that males generally display a younger age of onset than females. Understanding the factors that impact on age at the onset of symptoms could lead to better understanding of the risk factors for the disorder and earlier and improved intervention strategies for patients.

What is the evidence relating to age at onset?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests the incidence (new cases) of schizophrenia is higher in males up until 40 years of age, then higher in females after 50 years of age. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests there are more males than females in first-episode psychosis samples, and a younger age at first contact with services for males compared to females, but only in Western countries. Moderate quality evidence suggests people with a family history of psychosis have an earlier age at onset than people without a family history of psychosis. High quality evidence suggests no differences in the age at onset between people who use tobacco and people who do not use tobacco.


March 2016

Page last updated: 0:30  19 August 2017

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