The aim of this study was to assess the frequency and type of minor physical anomalies in schizophrenic patients and their normal siblings.
Sixty adult patients with schizophrenia, 21 siblings of these patients, and 75 normal comparison subjects were assessed through use of an extended scale consisting of the Waldrop scale and 23 other minor physical anomalies.
Patients had significantly more minor physical anomalies than comparison subjects in all body areas tested and also more minor physical anomalies in total than their siblings. Hand, eye, and mouth minor physical anomalies best discriminated patients from comparison subjects. Siblings had significantly more minor physical anomalies than normal comparison subjects. Sixty percent of the patients and 38% of the siblings, but only 5% of the comparison subjects, had a higher rate of minor physical anomalies (i.e., six or more). With the exception of ear minor physical anomalies, no association was found between minor physical anomalies in the patient and sibling in the same family.
Higher levels of minor physical anomalies (especially in the eye, mouth, and hand/foot regions) characterize both schizophrenic patients and their normal siblings, but there is little similarity in these anomalies between patients and siblings in the same family. Thus, one or more genetic or shared environmental factors may increase the risk for development of both minor physical anomalies and schizophrenia in these families at large. Minor physical anomalies associated with schizophrenia are frequently found in, but are clearly not limited to, the head or facial region. The Waldrop scale identifies minor physical anomalies strongly associated with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, assessment of the new items clearly indicates that many additional minor physical anomalies are found in schizophrenic patients.
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Mar;157(3):48610698853