Adult children of parents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at higher risk of developing the condition themselves, even when no apparent genetic risk factors for COPD are present.
This insight indicates a need for better screening for COPD in this group of people to create a greater likelihood of identifying and treating patients at early stages of the disease, so as to limit its progression.
The study, “What are my chances of developing COPD if one of my parents has the disease?” A systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence of co-occurrence of COPD diagnosis in parents and offspring,” was published in the International Journal of COPD.
There is only one form of COPD that is considered inherited, but the presence of the disease across generations may be guarded by forces beyond pure genetics. Environmental and psychosocial factors, including smoking and health behavior, tend to be similar in families.
But there is little research concerning the risk of COPD in children of sick parents without known genetic risk factors.
Researchers at the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia analyzed data from previously published studies. Since family history was defined in very different ways, only a few studies could be included in the analysis.
Of the eight studies that met the quality and eligibility criteria for this study, three had examined the presence of COPD in adult children of sick parents, and five studies explored the parental history of COPD among patients.
In total, the studies included more than 89,000 participants. The three studies reporting on disease in children of sick parents demonstrated that between zero and 17.3% of adult children had COPD. The proportion of COPD patients who reported a parental history of disease ranged from 11.7% to 58%.
Pooling available data showed that adult children of COPD patients had a 57% greater risk of developing COPD than those without a sick parent.
Researchers noted that none of the studies were designed with the main goal of examining presence of COPD in children, and all had a risk of bias when assessed with a checklist for this type of study.
Nevertheless, the analysis does provide an indication that screening adult children of COPD patients for early signs of disease may be a justifiable approach to reduce the impact of the disease in society.