BACKGROUND The relationship between those schizophrenia-like conditions that have their onset in late life and early-onset schizophrenia is unclear. Very few family history studies of patients with late-onset psychosis have been reported, and it is not known whether their relatives have an increased risk of psychosis.
METHOD Information was collected on the psychiatric morbidity of 269 first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia or delusional disorder with an onset after the age of 60 (late paraphrenia), and 272 first-degree relatives of healthy elderly control subjects, using a research diagnostic instrument.
RESULTS With a narrow age range (15-50 years) at risk, the estimated lifetime risk of schizophrenia was 1.3% in the relatives of both cases and controls. With a wider age range (15-90 years) at risk, estimated lifetime risk of schizophrenia was 2.3% for the relatives of cases and 2.2% for the relatives of controls. However, depression was significantly more common among the relatives of cases than controls.
CONCLUSIONS Those schizophrenia-like psychoses with onset in late life are not genetically associated with schizophrenia.