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"Can I pass schizophrenia on to my children?"


My boyfriend has schizophrenia and I do not. If we have a baby could we pass his disease on to our children? Should we talk to someone about this before having kids.


Schizophrenia, as you know is a complex, chronic psychiatric disorder that is typically life long although its symptoms can often be controlled with medications, as it sounds like is the case with your boyfriend. Over the years, we have begun to learn a great deal about what causes schizophrenia. However, this research has shown that there is no simple single cause of the disorder.

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Rather multiple genetic factors together with environmental factors come together to determine whether or not the condition will develop. Rates of schizophrenia are definitely higher in children born to parents who have schizophrenia. However, having a parent who is schizophrenic does not in any way guarantee that you will go on to be schizophrenic yourself. In fact, children born to schizophrenics probably only have about a 10% chance of going on to develop schizophrenia themselves. If the possibility of having a child who will go on to develop schizophrenia is frightening to you, or if you have more questions about the genetics of schizophrenia, then you may want to consider talking to your boyfriend's psychiatrist. They will be able to answer your questions and give you additional guidance as you try to decide how best to plan for having a family.

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