Parental smoking may increase children’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

Written by | 16 Oct 2021 | Medicines and Therapeutics

New research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology links parental smoking with an elevated risk of rheumatoid arthritis in children when they reach adulthood.

Among 90,923 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II (which included female registered nurses aged 25–42 years in 1989), 532 developed rheumatoid arthritis during a median follow-up of 27.7 years. Parental smoking when the participants were children was associated with a 75% higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, even after controlling for personal smoking when the participants were adults. This risk was even higher among participants who went on to smoke as adults.

“These results suggest that early life inhalant exposures such as passive smoking may pre-dispose individuals to develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life,” said senior author Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, MMSc, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“We used advanced statistical methods that allowed us to decipher the potential direct harm of early-life passive smoking experience on rheumatoid arthritis risk, while also taking into account factors occurring throughout adulthood,” added lead author Kazuki Yoshida, MD, ScD.

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