Is Arthritis Hereditary?

Should Your Children Be Tested?

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If you have arthritis and you are a parent, you might wonder if your children will get arthritis too. Is arthritis hereditary? Because the hereditary aspect of arthritis is concerning, should your children be tested?

Family History and Genetics Are Risk Factors

Certain risk factors increase the chance of developing arthritis. Genetics and family history are among the risk factors. Researchers have associated specific genes with certain types of arthritis, such as HLA-B27 and HLA-DR4.

Should Your Children Be Tested?

Since there are blood tests that help diagnose arthritis, parents often wonder if their children could be tested for arthritis—at least to know what the future may hold. When asked how useful it would be to obtain lab work on the children of adults with arthritis, rheumatologist Scott J. Zashin, MD, said, "I do not recommend testing the blood of children without clinical symptoms whose parents have arthritis. These children are more likely to test positive for rheumatoid factor, ANA, and HLA-B27 and never develop the rheumatologic condition. Typically, no more than 10% of children from a parent with arthritis will develop a similar problem. On the other hand, if a child presents with the signs and symptoms of chronic arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis, then it is quite reasonable to obtain the appropriate lab work."

Bottom Line

Only test children if they are showing signs and symptoms of arthritis. Don't ignore arthritis warning signs but at the same time, don't impose your fears onto your children.

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  • Answer provided by Scott J. Zashin, M.D., clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Zashin is also an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Zashin is the author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle of Anti-TNF Blockers and co-author of Natural Arthritis Treatment.