Pre-conception diet link to baby's health

Eating lots of fruit and vegetables before conception could boost the chances of delivering a baby of healthy weight, according to a new study.

Researchers found that women who consumed three or more daily servings of leafy vegetables in the three months prior to falling pregnant had 50 per cent less chance of having a small baby. Eating fruit also appeared to lower the risk, as did consuming oily fish three times a week.

Babies who are small for their age at birth account for half of all stillbirths, while those who live have a higher chance of developing heart disease and diabetes when they are older. The latest study involved more than 3,500 women from Auckland, New Zealand; Manchester, London and Cork in Ireland.

Writing in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the researchers said eating at least three servings of green leafy vegetables a day before pregnancy cuts the risk of babies suffering a low birthweight. However, women who ate fruit less than once a week had around twice the risk of delivering a small baby.

Professor Philip Steer, BJOG editor-in-chief, said: "The message is: fewer take-aways, more fresh fruit and vegetables."

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