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Diet improves pregnancy chances in women receiving IVF by 68%

New research has found that women who follow a “Mediterranean” diet in the six months before assisted reproductive treatment have a significantly better chance of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a live baby than women who did not.

Researchers asked women about their diet before they underwent in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment and found that those who ate more fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, fish and olive oil, and less red meat, had a 65-68 per cent greater likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy and birth compared to women with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet.

The study, which is published Tuesday in the journal Human Reproduction, focused on dietary patterns rather than individual nutrients, foods or food groups. It assessed the diet of 244 women via a food frequency questionnaire when they enrolled at an Assisted Conception Unity in Athens, Greece, for their first IVF treatment.

The questionnaire asked them about how often they ate certain groups of food in the preceding six months; the results gave the women a MedDiet Score, which ranged from 0-55 with higher scores indicating greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The women were aged between 22-41 and were non-obese (body mass index of less than 30 kg/m2).

Researchers, led by Associate Professor Nikos Yiannakouris at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens, divided the women into three groups depending on their MedDiet Score: the first group had scores between 18 to 30, the second scored between 31-35 and the third group scored between 36 to 47.

They found that compared to the 86 women in the highest scoring group, the 79 women in the lowest scoring group had significantly lower rates of pregnancies (29 per cent versus 50 per cent) and live births (26.6 per cent versus 48.8 per cent).

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