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      Minor physical anomalies, dermatoglyphic asymmetries, and cortisol levels in adolescents with schizotypal personality disorder.

      The American Journal of Psychiatry

      Adolescent, Age Factors, Circadian Rhythm, Congenital Abnormalities, diagnosis, genetics, Dermatoglyphics, Humans, Hydrocortisone, analysis, Saliva, chemistry, Schizotypal Personality Disorder

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          A relationship between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia has been documented in behavioral genetic studies, and there are similarities in the cognitive deficits and brain abnormalities associated with these disorders. Adolescents with schizotypal personality disorder are of particular interest because the postpubertal period is a critical one for the development of a DSM axis I disorder. It is likely that some schizotypal adolescents will remain stable over time, some will improve, and a subgroup will develop schizophrenia. This study tested the hypotheses that, like schizophrenic patients, schizotypal adolescents manifest an elevated rate of minor physical and dermatoglyphic anomalies, both of which suggest prenatal neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Cortisol release is also of interest because of evidence that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis may influence the behavioral expression of vulnerability to schizophrenia. Minor physical anomalies, dermatoglyphic asymmetries, and salivary cortisol levels were measured in three groups of adolescents: 20 with schizotypal personality disorder, 20 with other personality disorders, and 26 with no disorder. Assessments began at noon, and four saliva samples were obtained at hourly intervals. The schizotypal personality disorder group showed more minor physical anomalies and dermatoglyphic asymmetries than the normal comparison group and higher cortisol levels than both of the other groups. Group differences in cortisol level were most pronounced at the beginning of the evaluation. Cortisol level and age were positively correlated. The findings support the assumption that schizotypal personality disorder is associated with perturbations in fetal neurodevelopment and, under some circumstances, a heightened cortisol response.

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