Junk food diet can double infertility risk

Alicia Farmer
May 4, 2018

There are numerous obstacles that can prevent a woman from getting pregnant, and a new study suggests that eating fast food is one of those obstacles.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute asked 5598 women in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland about their diet to learn its effect on their pregnancies.

Women who shun fruit or eat lots of fast food take longer to get pregnant and are less likely to conceive within a year, according to a study released Thursday.

As per findings, the woman who fed more on fruit than junk food conceived earlier compared to those who ate junk food more and avoided regular fruits.

For instance, the researchers found intake of green leafy vegetables or fish did not have any impact on the timing of pregnancy.

Led by professor Claire Roberts from University Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute in Australia, the team found that women who eat fast food four or more times per week took nearly a month longer to get pregnant. "Our data show that frequent consumption of fast foods delays time to pregnancy".

Fertility studies don't often examine the impact that diet has on conception beyond those who are in the process of fertility treatments, and the results show that eating fast food multiple times a week reduces the chances of conceiving within a year.

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Their records also included details on when they began trying to become pregnant.

For the study, 5598 women were asked about their diet and how long it took to conceive during their first prenatal or antenatal visit after 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy.

In the USA, the government recommends pregnant women eat foods high in vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, vitamin A and D which can keep the mother and foetus healthy, and prevent birth defects. Fast food referred to products bought from fast food shops, excluding items bought from supermarkets, like frozen pizza.

"The specific dietary components of fast food and their relationship to fertility have not been studied in human pregnancies", the researchers wrote.

Dr Grieger said: "Most of the women did not have a history of infertility".

The study took into account other risks affecting fertility, such as body weight, smoking and alcohol consumption. "As diet is a modifiable factor, our findings underscore the importance of considering preconception diet to support timely conception for women planning pregnancy". "However, given that many women do not change their diet from pre-pregnancy to during pregnancy, we believe that the women's recall of their diet one month prior to pregnancy is likely to be reasonably accurate", said Dr Grieger. A research midwife surveyed the women's dietary information one month before conception.

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