Is Fish Intake During Pregnancy Linked to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

A new study of nearly 74,000 pregnant women finds an association between high intake of certain fish and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, but the researchers stress cause and effect cannot be definitively established yet.

Children born to women who consume high amounts of certain fish during pregnancy may face an increased risk of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

JIA is the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 16 and can cause joint pain, swelling and loss of motion.

In a new study, researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaires filled out by nearly 74,000 pregnant women and estimated their exposure to dietary mercury.

High weekly intake of lean or semi-oily fish was associated with an increased risk of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, according to the results, but no clear link was found between the autoimmune disease and oily fish, total fish intake or high mercury intake versus low.

One researcher says while the data indicates an association, causation cannot be definitely inferred. He says, "Therefore, we cannot caution pregnant women against consuming fish solely based on this study in regard to JIA risk, especially considering other research highlighting the positive impacts of a marine diet.”

Further investigation is needed to determine the role of heavy metals in juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

 Source: EULAR 2024

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