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Background Psychological stress is implicated in the development of schizophrenia, but little is known about experiences of stress among children at elevated risk for the disorder. Aims To examine stressor exposure and reactivity in children with different vulnerability profiles for schizophrenia: (a) children presenting multiple antecedents of schizophrenia (ASz group), (b) children with a family history of schizophrenia (FHx group) and (c) typically developing low-risk (TD) children. Method Ninety-five children (ASz = 29, FHx = 19, ASz+FHx = 5, TD = 42), identified aged 9-12 years using a community-based screening procedure or as relatives of individuals with schizophrenia, completed questionnaires assessing environmental stressors and psychopathology at age 11-14 years. Results Relative to their typically developing peers, children in the FHx and ASz groups were exposed to a greater number of negative life events and a higher frequency of daily stressors, respectively, and were more distressed by these experiences. Conclusions Stress exposure and reactivity may constitute useful targets of early intervention for psychosis.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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