Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

The Association between a History of Parental Addictions and Arthritis in Adulthood: Findings from a Representative Community Survey

Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

The Association between a History of Parental Addictions and Arthritis in Adulthood: Findings from a Representative Community Survey

Article excerpt

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Esme Fuller-Thomson 1,2 and Jessica P. Liddycoat 2 and Maria Stefanyk 2

Academic Editor:Sally Guttmacher

1, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Toronto, ON, M5S 1A1, Canada 2, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M5S 1A1, Canada

Received 12 October 2013; Revised 24 January 2014; Accepted 30 January 2014; 23 March 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

At some point in their lives, an estimated 2.6% of adult Americans have a drug disorder [1] and 15.5% have alcohol dependence [2]. The direct and indirect costs of alcohol addiction in the United States are approximately $162 billion dollars [3]. Of this sum, $18.8 billion is the result of health care expenditures and $6.1 billion is due to social welfare expenditures [3]. In 2000, approximately 140 000 deaths were directly related to alcohol consumption [4]. Research indicates that parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have lower parenting skills and higher rates of neglect [5] and physical abuse [5]. Children raised by drug addicted or alcoholic parents are vulnerable to many negative health behaviors and mental health outcomes as well as higher rates of addictions. Approximately 10% of children in the United States have at least one parent with an addiction [6].

Children of addicted parents have twice the risk of premature death in comparison to their peers who do not have addicted parents [7]. Most research has focused on the higher rates of suicide, drug and alcohol addictions, and violence as risk factors for the higher morbidity and mortality of the adolescent and adult children of alcoholic parents. Less attention has been paid to the potential long-term physical health outcomes for children raised by addicted parents. Emerging research suggests an association between household dysfunction in childhood and the later development of illness in adult years, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, bronchitis, or emphysema [8, 9]. This paper focused on the association between parental addictions and cumulative lifetime incidence of arthritis.

Parental addictions often result in or exacerbate other adverse childhood experiences such as parental divorce [7, 10, 11], parental unemployment [12], and household poverty [12]. Children raised by parents with addictions are also at increased risk for child abuse [5, 7]. Research has shown that several of these childhood risk factors, particularly childhood physical abuse [13-15], parental unemployment, and parental divorce [16] are associated with an elevated risk of osteoarthritis and/or adult onset arthritis.

A pattern of unhealthy adult behaviors is often found among individuals with a history of parental addictions. In order to deal with negative experiences, adult children of addicts may develop risky health behaviors as a coping mechanism. These behaviors may in turn lead to a person being at an increased risk for chronic diseases [8]. For example, parental addiction has been associated with adult children's alcohol abuse [17, 18], smoking [17, 19], and other substances abuse [7, 17, 18]. In turn, these health behaviors, particularly cigarette smoking [20, 21] and alcohol consumption [22], are associated with an elevated risk of adult onset arthritis [8].

Dysfunctional home environments, which include exposure to parental addictions, have been correlated with childhood physical inactivity [8]. In turn, inactivity leads to obesity in children which is sustained into adulthood [17, 23]. Obesity places both men and women at an increased risk for both self-reported and radiographic knee and hip arthritis [24-29]. …

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