Morbid risk of schizophrenia amongst relatives of schizophrenia probands: A family-controlled study

  • Justus U. Onu
  • Jude U. Ohaeri
  • Ngozi N. Unaogu
  • Chikaodili M. Inechi
  • Nwamaka B. Nweze
  • Vincent N. Ubochi
  • Jojo U. Onwukwe


Introduction: There is a dearth of data on heritability of schizophrenia in Africa. The few African studies that addressed familial psychiatric morbidity in schizophrenia involved relatively small sample sizes and addressed psychiatric morbidity only in first-degree relatives. The present study sought to improve upon the methodology of previous African studies, and widen the scope to second- and third-degree relatives with a view to enriching the field of genetic epidemiology in Africa.
Methods: This study elicited information on the morbid risk of  schizophrenia amongst 5259 relatives of schizophrenia probands (n = 138) and 6734 relatives of healthy controls (n = 138) through direct interview of patients, available relatives of patients and controls. Diagnosis of probands was confirmed using Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Through a direct interview of 138 patients and their available relatives, a family history approach using the Family Interview for Genetic Studies was utilised to obtain information on the morbid risk for all relatives that could be recalled. The same approach was utilised for the interview of the controls (aged 45 years and above) and their relatives. Morbid risk estimates were calculated using the Weinberg shorter method.
Results: Morbid risk for schizophrenia in the first-, second- and third-degree relatives of schizophrenia probands was 10.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 10.6–11.2), 4.2% (95% CI = 4.1–4.3) and 3.9% (95% CI = 3.6–4.2), respectively, compared with 2.6% (95% CI = 2.5–2.7), 1.6% (95% CI = 1.5–1.7) and 1.5% (95% CI = 1.4–1.6), respectively, of the healthy control group.
Conclusion: The findings support the widely noted impression that  schizophrenia significantly aggregates in families of schizophrenia probands more than healthy controls.

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eISSN: 2078-6786
print ISSN: 1608-9685