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Study Links Parental Addictions to Arthritis in Adult Offspring

A study conducted by the University of Toronto indicates that the adult offspring of parents with drug or alcohol addiction are more likely to have arthritis. During the study, the researchers investigated a group of 13,036 adults and found that a medical professional had diagnosed 20.4% of respondents with arthritis. Researchers note in news release from the university that 14.5% of all respondents reported having at least one parent whose drug or alcohol use caused issues while they were under the age of 18 years and still living at home.

The results suggest individuals whose parents were addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to have arthritis. Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, professor, lead study author, notes that after adjusting for age, sex, and race, parental addictions were linked to a 58% higher risk of having arthritis. Fuller-Thomson is the Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair in the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Study co-author and recent MSW graduate Jessica Liddycoat, states in the release that the researchers had anticipated that adult offspring’s health behaviors, including smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption may explain the strong link between parental addictions and arthritis.

Yet Liddycoat says, “We did not find this to be the case. Even after adjusting for these adult health behaviors, as well as income, education, a history of childhood maltreatment, and mood and anxiety disorders, we found that parental addictions were still a statistically significant factor associated with 30% higher odds of arthritis.”

The researchers emphasize that future prospective studies are necessary, as the survey nature of the data in the current study makes it “impossible” to determine whether the relationship between parental addictions and arthritis is causal.

Maria Stefanyk, coauthor, explains that, “Although we do not know if these interventions will impact the development of arthritis in adulthood, we do know that children do much better on a wide range of outcomes when parents are no longer abusing drugs and alcohol.”

[Source: University of Toronto]