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Diet affects the time women take to conceive

Tuesday May 8th, 2018

Women who consume less fruit and more fast food will find it more difficult to conceive their first child within a year, a new study has shown.

The report, published in Human Reproduction found that women who ate fruit fewer than three times a month took half a month longer to become pregnant compared to those who ate fruit three or more times a day in the month before conception.

Women who ate fast food four or more times a week took nearly a month longer to become pregnant compared to those who rarely ate it.

The results follow research by midwives in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, who asked 5598 women who were all recruited to the multi-centre Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study between 2004 and 2011.

Out of the cohort, 5258 received no fertility treatments before conception and 340 did. 468 (8%) couples were classified as infertile, which is defined as taking longer than a year to conceive, while 2204 (39%) conceived within a month.

When examining the impact of diet on infertility, they found that the risk of infertility in women with the lowest intake of fruit increased from 8% to 12% and for those who ate fast food four or more times a week, it rose from 8% to 16%.

The researchers also found that while intake of fruit and fast foods affected time to pregnancy, pre-pregnancy intake of green leafy vegetables or fish did not.

Couples were excluded from the analysis if they were receiving fertility treatment due to the male partner’s infertility.

Professor Claire Roberts, Lloyd Cox professorial research fellow at the University of Adelaide, Australia, who led the study, said: “These findings show that eating a good quality diet that includes fruit and minimising fast food consumption improves fertility and reduces the time it takes to get pregnant.”

First author, Dr Jessica Grieger, of the University of Adelaide, added: “We recommend that women who want to become pregnant should align their dietary intakes towards national dietary recommendations for pregnancy. Our data show that frequent consumption of fast foods delays time to pregnancy.”

The researchers plan to identify dietary patterns, rather than individual food groups, that may be associated with how long it takes women to become pregnant.

Grieger J et al. Pre-pregnancy fast food and fruit intake is associated with time to pregnancy. Human Reproduction. May 2018. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey079.

Tags: Australia | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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