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22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is associated with a high risk of childhood as well as adult psychiatric disorders, in particular schizophrenia. Childhood cognitive deterioration in 22q11.2DS has previously been reported, but only in studies lacking a control sample.
To compare cognitive trajectories in children with 22q11.2DS and unaffected control siblings.
A longitudinal study of neurocognitive functioning (IQ, executive function, processing speed and attention) was conducted in children with 22q11.2DS (n = 75, mean age time 1 (T1) 9.9, time 2 (T2) 12.5) and control siblings (n = 33, mean age T1 10.6, T2 134).
Children with 22q11.2DS exhibited deficits in all cognitive domains. However, mean scores did not indicate deterioration. When individual trajectories were examined, some participants showed significant decline over time, but the prevalence was similar for 22q11.2DS and control siblings. Findings are more likely to reflect normal developmental fluctuation than a 22q11.2DS-specific abnormality.
Childhood cognitive deterioration is not associated with 22q11.2DS. Contrary to previous suggestions, we believe it is premature to recommend repeated monitoring of cognitive function to identifying individual children with 22q11.2DS at high risk of developing schizophrenia.
Children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) have been reported to have high rates of cognitive and psychiatric problems.
To establish the nature and prevalence of psychiatric disorder and neurocognitive impairment in children with 22q11.2DS and test whether risk of psychopathology is mediated by the children's intellectual impairment.
Neurocognition and psychopathology were assessed in 80 children with 22q11.2DS (mean age 10.2 years, s.d. = 2.1) and 39 sibling controls (mean age 10.9 years, s.d. = 2.0).
More than half (54%) of children with 22q11.2DS met diagnostic criteria for one or more DSM-IV-TR psychiatric disorder. These children had lower IQ (mean 76.8, s.d. = 13.0) than controls (mean 108.6, s.d. = 15.2) (P<0.001) and showed a range of neurocognitive impairments. Increased risk of psychopathology was not mediated by intellectual impairment.
22q11.2DS is not related to a specific psychiatric phenotype in children. Moreover, the deletion has largely independent effects on IQ and risk of psychopathology, indicating that psychopathology in 22q11.2DS is not a non-specific consequence of generalised cognitive impairment.
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