Having a mother who has osteoarthritis (OA) increases the risk for hip, knee, and hand OA in her children, particularly in the case of daughters, according to results published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The recent study included participants with OA from the Musculoskeletal pain in Ullensaker Study (MUST; n=630) and the Nor-Twin OA study (n=7175). Participants reported whether either of their parents had OA. The researchers used logistic regression to calculate whether maternal and paternal OA increased the risk for surgical definitions of hip and knee OA (total joint replacement) and clinical definitions of hip, knee, and hand OA (American College of Rheumatology criteria).

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The results indicated that maternal OA increased the risk for offspring OA across several OA locations and severities.

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Women whose mothers had OA had an increased risk for any OA (MUST risk ratio [RR], 1.13; 95% CI; Nor-Twin RR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.05-1.97). However, the risk was less clear for men whose mothers had OA (MUST RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.95-1.43; Nor-Twin RR, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.71-2.41).

Women whose fathers had OA were less likely to have an increased risk for OA (MUST RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.85-1.16; Nor-Twin RR, 1.52; 95% CI, 0.94-2.46). This was true for men whose fathers had OA as well (MUST RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.83-1.41; Nor-Twin RR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.35-2.48).

Some of the limitations of the study were the lack of information on siblings who were not twins, the strict definition of clinical hip OA compared with that of clinical knee OA, and the inability to differentiate between the severities of individuals with OA in different locations.

“Future studies may reveal the mechanism for this heritability since a limited number of chromosomes and DNA may be involved in OA disease etiology,” the researchers wrote.


Weldingh E, Johnsen MB, Hagen KB, et al. The maternal and paternal effects on clinical and surgical definitions of osteoarthritis [published online June 25, 2019]. Arthritis Rheumatol. doi:10.1002/art.41023