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.
A nearly no-fruit diet compared to one loaded with three or more pieces per day added about two weeks, on average, to the time of conception, researchers reported in the peer-reviewed journal Human Reproduction.
And women who consumed fast foods such as burgers, pizza and deep-fried chicken four or more times a week compared to those who never or rarely touched the stuff took an extra month to become pregnant.
"These findings show that eating a good quality diet that includes fruits and minimising fast food consumption improves fertility and reduces the time it takes to get pregnant," said lead researcher Claire Robers, a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Earlier research on food and pregnancy has focused mostly on the diet of women diagnosed with, or receiving treatment for, infertility. The impact of maternal diet before conception among women more generally has received scant scientific attention.
To help fill that gap, Roberts and a dozen colleagues in Australia, Britain and New Zealand combed through data gathered through questionnaires by midwives between 2004 and 2011 in all three countries for the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) survey.