Path analysis of familial resemblance of pulmonary function and cigarette smoking

M. F. Cotch, T. H. Beaty, B. H. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The techniques of path analysis were utilized to assess the relative importance of genetic factors, personal smoking behavior, and shared environment in the resemblance of pulmonary function among relatives using both cross-sectional and longitudinal data from nuclear families. Data on 1-s forced expiratory volume, FEV1 (adjusted for age, sex, race, height, and ascertainment group) and the number of cigarettes smoked per day were available on 978 individuals in 384 nuclear families residing in the Baltimore metropolitan area. All these individuals were seen twice between 1971 and 1981, with an average of 5 yr between visits. The direct effect of an individual's own smoking explained 10 and 3% of variation in adjusted FEV1 among parents and offspring, respectively. Shared environmental factors influencing personal smoking behavior accounted for 5% of the parent-offspring correlation in adjusted FEV1 and 3% of the sibling correlation in adjusted FEV1 in this sample. Undefined environmental factors that influenced an individual's smoking habits and could be shared among relatives were found to explain 19% of the familial correlations in smoking. Genetic heritability estimates ranged between 36 and 40%, with no evidence of intergenerational differences in the expression of apparent genetic control of pulmonary function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1343
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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