Childhood Bedwetting Occurred Twice As Often In Adults With Schizophrenia

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Childhood Bedwetting Occurred Twice As Often In Adults With Schizophrenia
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Childhood bedwetting occurred twice as often in adults with schizophrenia than in their unaffected brothers and sisters, according to a new study from researchers at NIMH. Their report appears in the September 2008 issue of the journal Brain.

In the study led by NIMH's Thomas M, Hyde, M.D., Ph.D., the mothers of 211 adult schizophrenia patients and of 234 unaffected adult brothers and sisters were asked to recall their children's bedwetting history. For additional comparison, mothers of 355 other adults without schizophrenia were also asked to recall their children's bedwetting.

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The researchers found that 21 percent of the schizophrenia patients experienced childhood bedwetting, compared with 11 percent of their unaffected brothers and sisters, and 7 percent of those in the other comparison group. This suggests that childhood bedwetting indicates abnormal brain development that contributes to the development of schizophrenia, the study authors say.

The investigators used psychological tests of academic skills and intellectual ability to look for other features to distinguish between schizophrenia patients with a bedwetting history from patients without. Those with a bedwetting history scored lower on two language fluency tests than patients without a history. Performance on these tests is linked to the function of the front part of the brain, where higher level thinking takes place.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans revealed that patients with a bedwetting history had reduced gray matter in the front of the brain — which processes information — but the patients without a bedwetting history did not. This part of the brain has been associated with bladder control and with the development of schizophrenia.

Considered together, the study's findings advance the concept that schizophrenia is associated with difficulties during early childhood development, particularly with difficulties in the development of the front part of the brain.

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