New research seems to point out that there may be a possibility to pass chronic pain conditions down to your children. “Amanda L. Stone of Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., and Anna C. Wilson of Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland, Ore., present a conceptual model of transmission of chronic pain, including potential mechanisms and moderating factors. The researchers write, “Such a framework highlights chronic pain as inherently familial and intergenerational, opening up avenues for new models of intervention and prevention that can be family-centered and include at-risk children.”
Proposed Explanations for Familial Transmission of Chronic Pain Risk
Knowing that offspring of parents with chronic pain are at increased risk of developing chronic pain, as well as the adverse mental and physical health outcomes associated with chronic pain, Drs. Stone and Wilson developed an “integrative conceptual model” to explore possible explanations for this risk.
The researchers identify five “plausible mechanisms” to explain the transmission of chronic disease risk from parent to child:
• Genetics. Children of parents with chronic pain might be at increased genetic risk for sensory as well as psychological components of pain. Research suggests that genetic factors may account for roughly half of the risk of chronic pain in adults.
• Early Neurobiological Development. Having a parent with chronic pain may affect the features and functioning of the nervous system during critical periods in early development. For example, a baby’s development might be affected by the mother’s stress level or health behaviors during and after pregnancy.
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