Journal Article

Population-based Cohort Studies on Premorbid Cognitive Function in Schizophrenia

James H. MacCabe

in Epidemiologic Reviews

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 30, issue 1, pages 77-83
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0193-936X
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1478-6729 | DOI:
Population-based Cohort Studies on Premorbid Cognitive Function in Schizophrenia

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Many previous studies have found associations between poor cognitive function and schizophrenia. However, the majority of these studies used retrospective data, leading to the possibility of selection and recall biases. Retrospective studies are also unable to distinguish whether cognitive deficits exist prior to the onset of schizophrenia, suggesting that they are important in etiology, or following onset, suggesting that they are secondary to the disorder or its treatment. The current review used a systematic search strategy to identify and summarize the results of all studies that have used population-based cohorts to examine associations between prospectively collected data on premorbid cognitive functioning in childhood or adolescence and subsequent risk for schizophrenia. Three broad categories of study have addressed these questions: birth cohort designs with cognitive testing during childhood, army conscript designs with cognitive performance measured at conscription, and studies using school grades. Birth cohort and conscript studies are consistent in reporting strong associations between poor performance on cognitive batteries and increased risk of schizophrenia. Studies on school performance have been less consistent, although the largest such study showed strong associations across all school subjects. In conclusion, children and adolescents with poor cognitive abilities in childhood are at increased risk of schizophrenia. This suggests that poor cognitive function is either directly causal or associated with causal factors that are involved in etiology.

Keywords: adolescent development; child development; cohort studies; intelligence; learning disorders; review; schizophrenia

Journal Article.  4166 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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