Review Finds Parental COPD Associated With COPD in Offspring

A recent review found that parents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had a higher risk of having children with COPD.

A review published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease found that there was an association between parental and offspring chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with offspring of parents with COPD having an increased risk of developing COPD themselves.

The researchers used the Embase and Ovid databases MEDLINE to search for studies they wanted to include in the review and also used the help of a research librarian. The criteria for COPD for parents and offspring were broad, allowing the researchers to capture studies that used definitions other than COPD. The researchers defined COPD as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory symptoms, or chronic respiratory disease. Diagnosis may be based on spirometry, self-reported information, or medical records.

Studies written in languages ​​other than English or Nordic were excluded. Original reports were the only studies included.

There were 13 studies included in this review. The included studies were conducted in the United States, Europe and Asia, and 1 was a multicenter study; Six studies were published prior to 2010. All studies included were observational studies, with most studies using a case-control study design. The studies also include 1 cohort study and 2 cross-sectional studies.

Patients were on average 45 years of age or older in all studies using a parental approach (i.e., offspring with COPD reporting parental COPD) and 27 to 41 years of age in studies using a parentage approach (i.e., the index subject was the parent with COPD and cases were defined as the index person’s descendants).

All but 1 studies found an increased risk of COPD in participants with parental COPD. The prevalence in studies using an antecedent approach ranged from 19% to 58%; the prevalence in studies using the descendant approach ranged from 0% to 17%.

A study found that there was a higher prevalence of parental COPD in non-Hispanic Caucasian patients (37.1%) compared to African American patients (19.3%), but the adjusted odds ratio (OR) did not differ substantial (1.77) [95% CI, 1.55-2.03] vs 1.71 [95% CI, 1.35-2.17]respectively).

There were 2 studies reporting on early-onset COPD prevalence, with 1 finding nearly the same prevalence associated with maternal (23%) exposure versus paternal (21%). A study showing that the standard incidence ratio (SIR) of COPD for offspring was higher when biological parents had COPD (SIR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.69-2.31) compared to adopted parents (SIR, 1 .12; 95% CI, 0.92). -1.35).

Parents with COPD who smoked had a significant association with children with COPD (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.36-2.20) when adjusting for demographics, parental COPD, parental smoking, and childhood tobacco smoke .

Patients with parental COPD had a lower forced expiratory volume, greater shortness of breath, a lower quality of life, and a higher rate of severe exacerbations compared to those who had COPD but no parental COPD.

There were some limitations to this study. The language limitation may have caused studies to be missed. No quality test was performed for the included studies. Studies that combined sibling COPD or only evaluated sibling COPD were excluded from this review, meaning the proportion of sibling COPD was not taken into account when evaluating parental COPD.

The researchers concluded that the studies in the review showed a link between COPD in parents and the development of COPD in their offspring. The authors noted that this information may aid early COPD detection when evaluating family history.


Sikjær MG, Klitgaard A, Hilberg O, Løkke A. Parental COPD as a risk factor for COPD development and disease severity in offspring: a systematic scoping review. Int J Chron Obstruc Pulmon Dis. 2022;17:1323-1338. doi:10.2147/COPD.S364899

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