Q. My mother’s dad (my grandfather) had schizophrenia. No one else in my family has had this disease. My mother is 53 and free from it and my father is 54 and also doesn’t have it. What are the chances that I could get the disease? I am almost 20 and have had no symptoms as of yet. My brother is 23 and also has had no symptoms. Do I have a large change of getting the disease?

A. Research shows that children who have a parent with schizophrenia have a 13% to 15% increase risk for getting schizophrenia. The risk for grandchildren is even less. Schizophrenia, if it strikes usually begins in early adulthood between the ages of 18 and 25 for males. Women tend to develop schizophrenia later than men.

No one knows for sure if schizophrenia is genetic. There are still many theories about what causes schizophrenia and no one theory has been proven as the cause. The prevailing theory is that schizophrenia is a brain disease. It is also believed that stress and environment can play a role in the development of schizophrenia.

Since you have indicated that you and your brother are not experiencing symptoms, and your parents have not been afflicted, I would estimate that your chances of developing the disease are pretty low. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. Take care.