First successful treatment of childhood schizophrenia

1994

Challenge

Although schizophrenia is rare in children and adolescents (roughly 1 in 40,000), symptoms such as psychosis must be treated quickly and effectively to ensure the least amount of disruption to school and social activities. Treatment includes education and support, psychosocial counseling, and psychiatric medication. Medications for the pediatric population require additional levels of scrutiny and review, and pharmaceutical options were seriously lacking in this area of mental health.

Advance

Judith Rapoport, M.D., and colleagues enrolled 11 children meeting the criteria for schizophrenia in a six-week open trial of clozapine. At six weeks, behavior was rated on a number of pediatric scales, including the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and Children's Global Assessment Scale. More than half the children showed marked improvement in behavior after six weeks of clozapine therapy compared to their previous medication. 

Impact

The team’s research was the first time that clozapine was found to be a promising treatment for children and adolescents with schizophrenia who were not responding well to typical neuroleptics.

Publications

Frazier JA, Gordon CT, McKenna K, Lenane MC, Jih D, Rapoport JL. (1994). An open trial of clozapine in 11 adolescents with childhood-onset schizophrenia. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 33(5), 658-63.