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Developmental biology - Female Fertility

Fast food diet slows down fertility

Women who eat little or no fruit take longer to become pregnant...

Women who eat less fruit and more fast food take longer to get pregnant and are less likely to conceive within a year of trying. The study is published in Human Reproduction, one of the world's leading reproductive medicine journals.

During their first antenatal visit, research midwives in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland asked 5,598 women about their diet. None of these women had given birth.
In the month before conception, women who ate fruit less than one to three times a month took half a month longer to become pregnant when compared to women who ate fruit three or more times a day. Similarly, compared to women who never or rarely ate fast food, women who consumed fast food four or more times a week took nearly a month longer to become pregnant.

Among all the couples in the study, 468, about 8%, were classified as infertile (defined as taking longer than a year to conceive) while 2204 (39%) conceived within a month. When researchers looked at how diet impacted infertility, they found women with the lowest intake of fruit, increased their risk of infertility from 8% to 12%, and in those women eating fast food four or more times a week, their risk of infertility increased from 8% to 16%.
"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."

Claire Roberts PhD, Professor, Lloyd Cox Professorial Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia, and leader of the study.

First author, Jessica Grieger PhD, post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Adelaide, adds: "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."

Previous research tended to focus on diet of women already diagnosed and receiving treatment for infertility. But maternal diet before conception in the general population, has not been widely studied. This research was carried out on women recruited for a multi-centre Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study between the years 2004 and 2011. Of the 5,598 women, the majority (5258 or 94%) received no fertility treatments before conception and only 340 did after.

During the first prenatal visit at around 14-16 weeks' gestation, midwives collected information about the time it took to become pregnant along with the women's diet. This included details of diet in the month before conception and how frequently women consumed fruit, green leafy vegetables, fish and fast foods.
Fast foods included burgers, pizza, fried chicken and chips that were bought from take-away or fast food outlets. Fast foods eaten at home (bought from supermarkets, for example) were not included in the data collected and so consumption of this type of food is likely to be under-reported.

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

Grieger: "Most of the women did not have a history of infertility. We adjusted the relationships with pre-pregnancy diet to take account of several factors known to increase the risk of infertility, including elevated body mass index [BMI] and maternal age, smoking and alcohol intake. As diet is a modifiable factor, our findings underscore the importance of considering preconception diet to support timely conception for women planning pregnancy."
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.

Study limitations include that information on pre-pregnancy diet relied on women's recall and included a limited range of foods. Information on the fathers' diet was not collected, and it is possible that other, unknown factors might have affected the results. The study's major strength is the large group of women included.

"For any dietary intake assessment, one needs to use some caution regarding whether participant recall is an accurate reflection of dietary intake. However, given that many women do not change their pre-pregnancy diet to another diet during pregnancy, we believe women's recall of their diet one month prior to pregnancy is likely to be reasonably accurate," adds Grieger.
The researchers are continuing their study and plan to identify particular dietary patterns, rather than individual food groups, that may be associated with how long it takes women to become pregnant.

Claire Roberts PhD, Professor, Lloyd Cox Professorial Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia, and leader of the study.

Is preconception dietary intake associated with reduced fecundity as measured by a longer time to pregnancy (TTP)?

Lower intake of fruit and higher intake of fast food in the preconception period were both associated with a longer TTP.

Several lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, have consistently been associated with a longer TTP or infertility, but the role of preconception diet in women remains poorly studied. Healthier foods or dietary patterns have been associated with improved fertility, however, these studies focused on women already diagnosed with or receiving treatments for infertility, rather than in the general population.

Authors: Jessica A Grieger Luke E Grzeskowiak Tina Bianco-Miotto Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos Lisa J Moran Rebecca L Wilson Shalem Y Leemaqz Lucilla Poston Lesley McCowan Louise C Kenny Jenny Myers James J Walker Robert J Norman Gus A Dekker Claire T Roberts

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May 7, 2018   Fetal Timeline   Maternal Timeline   News   News Archive

Study findings show eating a good quality diet which includes fruit and minimising fast foods improves fertility, reducing the time it takes to get pregnant. Image credit: public domain.

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