Background: Schizophrenia has been seen as a severe and persistent illness that disqualifies mothers from adequately parenting their children.
Aim: To understand the scope of the issue, to learn about the subjective experiences of mothers and children, to appreciate the impact of psychotic illness on children at various ages, and to review the necessary components of intervention programs.
Results: Approximately half of all women with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are mothers. The rate of custody loss in this group is high. Most women with schizophrenia value their roles as mothers, and their adult children remain attached to them. There can be serious harms, however, associated with being the child of a mother with psychotic illness. Most of these appear to be mediated not by the illness itself but by associated risks: poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, social isolation, and/or substandard housing. Intervention programs have begun to cut across agency divisions to provide wraparound care in multiple domains for families in distress.
Conclusion: Schizophrenia in mothers poses problems for offspring but does not preclude effective parenting.