Is Schizophrenia Genetic? Here’s What To Know About Your Family’s Risk
“The average risk of developing schizophrenia ranges between half between 1 and 1%,” Keith Nuechterlein Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, as well as director of the UCLA Center for Neurocognition and Emotion in Schizophrenia in UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, informs the Health. “If your family has a 1st-degree relative–parent or sibling with schizophrenia, your chance of developing it increases from 5 to 10%, which is still not very high however it can be about 10 times more than others.” The risk increases to about 50% if you’ve got the same twin suffering from schizophrenia According to research.
The risk of schizophrenia can be increased by an insignificant mutation that isn’t passed down from parent to kid. “Occasional gene mutations can be different but they are also considered to be a contributing factor to schizophrenia,” Nuechterlein says.
Schizophrenia is thought to be the result of the interaction of environmental and genetic factors. “The remaining risk causes are related to the environment,” Nuechterlein explains.
Researchers have identified around 150 genes identified as increasing the risk of developing schizophrenia, yet each increases the risk by a tiny amount. It means you’ll require several genes to have any risk of being diagnosed with the disorder. This is known as polygenic risk along with environmental influences.
“There are some exceptions, such as in cases where the genetic mutation occurs at a particular location on the gene. For instance, those with a deletion on the 22 chromosomes–known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome–have around a 20 to 30 percent chance of developing schizophrenia” Nuechterlein says. The syndrome is usually associated with other health issues, such as issues with the immune system and heart as well as a Cleft palate.
As of now, experts aren’t recommending screening for schizophrenia through genetics regardless of whether or not have relatives who suffer from schizophrenia. “Even in the event that you possess one or two of these 150 genes, it won’t increase your risk by a large number,” Nuechterlein says. “There’s not enough information about it to be of any practical importance at an individual decision-making level.”
Genes are just one element of the equation, in any case. The other is environmental. Even if you possess many of the genes that are associated with schizophrenia risk, to be able to truly be diagnosed with schizophrenia, these genes need to be activated by external factors.
Certain of them we are aware of. “We are aware that complications during pregnancy and birth are possible, particularly when they result in temporarily decreasing the amount of oxygen reaching the brain of the fetus,” Nuechterlein says. Smoking during pregnancy, preterm labor pregnant, or infections (like influenza) during pregnancy is just a few examples.
“Traumatic situations later in childhood makes it more likely genetic predispositions will manifest their own,” Nuechterlein says. “It is not small. Abuse that continues, such as sexual assault or physical abuse from parents.”
Another significant risk factor for schizophrenia is using drugs. “We recognize that regular smoking marijuana when you are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia may trigger the onset of schizophrenia for many people who would not be affected,” Nuechterlein says. It’s not known whether marijuana use without genetic predisposition might result in schizophrenia.
Certain autoimmune diseases like celiac disorder are also associated with a higher incidence of schizophrenia.
At the moment, it’s not yet clear what the benefit is to know more about the schizophrenia-related genetic causes. Researchers continue to seek the genes that are implicated however there is an end to the returns when the effects of any other gene discovered are insignificant. Now, scientists are starting to investigate which biological processes schizophrenia-related genes affect, then cluster groups of these genes to see if they have an impact on similar processes.
“If we can pinpoint the exact location of the mechanisms by which these gene clusters influence protein development and the way they impact the brain’s development, then we may be able to pinpoint treatment,” Nuechterlein says, “maybe even treatments that could help to prevent schizophrenia from becoming a reality.”