When parents struggle with addiction, their kids are — not surprisingly — put at serious risk.
Parental abuse of alcohol and drugs has been linked with a litany of emotional, academic and developmental problems in children. Now, another less-apparent symptom has been associated with parental addiction: arthritis.
Children of parents dependent on drugs and alcohol are already more likely to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety, suffer psychiatric disorders, and do worse in school; but now researchers at the University of Toronto say as the same kids grow older, they’ll be more likely to develop arthritis.
“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 was still a statistically significant factor associated with 30 percent higher odds of arthritis,” explained Jessica Liddycoat, co-author of a new study on arthritis and addiction.
“We had anticipated that the adult offspring’s health behaviors such as smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption might explain the strong link between parental addictions and arthritis, however we did not find this to be the case,” Liddycoat added.
Researchers located the correlation by surveying a group of 13,036 adults — more than a fifth of whom had been diagnosed with arthritis, and more than 14 percent of whom had at least one parent who struggled with addiction. After adjusting for disrupting factors like age, sex and race, adults who had an addicted parent were 58 percent more likely to develop arthritis.
Esme Fuller-Thomson — lead researcher and author of the study, as well as the chairwoman of the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine — says more research is needed, as the nature of the survey results prevents her and her colleagues from establishing a causal relationship between addiction and arthritis.
Thomson’s research was published in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Population Research.