Early onset schizophrenia (EOS) begins in childhood or adolescence. EOS is associated with poor treatment response and may benefit from timely use of clozapine. This study aimed to identify the predictors of clozapine use in EOS and characterize the clinical profile and outcome of clozapine-treated youths with schizophrenia. We conducted a nationwide population-based study using linked data from Danish medical registries. We examined all incident cases of EOS (i.e., cases diagnosed prior to their 18th birthday) between December 31st 1994 and December 31st 2006 and characterized their demographic, clinical and treatment profiles. We then used multivariable cox proportional hazard models to identify predictors of clozapine treatment in this patient population. We identified 662 EOS cases (1.9% of all schizophrenia cases), of whom 108 (17.6%) had commenced clozapine by December 31st 2008. Patients had on average 3 antipsychotic trials prior to clozapine initiation. The mean interval between first antipsychotic treatment and clozapine initiation was 3.2 (2.9) years. Older age at diagnosis of schizophrenia [HR=1.2, 95% CI (1.05-1.4), p=0.01], family history of schizophrenia [HR=2.1, 95% CI (1.1-3.04), p=0.02] and attempted suicide [HR=1.8, 95% CI (1.1-3.04), p=0.02] emerged as significant predictors of clozapine use. The majority of patients (n=96, 88.8%) prescribed clozapine appeared to have a favorable clinical response as indicated by continued prescription redemption and improved occupational outcomes. Our findings support current recommendations for the timely use of clozapine in EOS.
Keywords: Adolescents; Antipsychotic; Children; Clozapine; Denmark; Schizophrenia.
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