BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS: Subgroups with distinct levels of neurocognitive functioning exist in children of parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, studies investigating the temporal stability of subgroup membership are currently lacking. We hypothesized that a minority of children at familial high-risk of schizophrenia (FHR-SZ) or bipolar disorder (FHR-BP) would transition to a different neurocognitive subgroup from age 7 to 11 and that most transitions would be to a more impaired subgroup.
STUDY DESIGN: Latent profile analysis was used to identify subgroups at two assessments (age 7 and 11) based on the performance of 320 children at FHR-SZ or FHR-BP across eight neurocognitive functions. Temporal stability in subgroup membership was evaluated with latent profile transition analysis. Population-based controls (age 7, n = 199; age 11, n = 178) were included as a reference group. Children transitioning to a more impaired subgroup were compared with nontransitioning children on sex, FHR-status, global functioning, and psychopathology.
STUDY RESULTS: At both assessment points, we identified three subgroups based on neurocognitive performance: a moderately-severely impaired, a mildly impaired, and an above-average subgroup. A total of 12.8% of children transitioned to a different subgroup, of which the majority (85.2%) moved to a more impaired subgroup. Parental diagnosis of schizophrenia, but neither parental diagnosis of bipolar disorder, global functioning at age 7, psychopathology, nor sex significantly differentiated children transitioning to a more impaired subgroup from nontransitioning children.
CONCLUSIONS: During pre-adolescence, neurocognitive developmental lag is associated with being at FHR-SZ. Close attention to these children's neurocognitive development is indicated.