Following a healthy lifestyle before conception and during pregnancy - including eating three pieces of fruit a day - could cut the chance of complications, research suggests.
Scientists from King’s College London found that maintaining a normal weight and blood pressure and following a healthy diet could boost a woman’s chances of an uncomplicated pregnancy.
More than 5,600 first-time mothers from the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland were monitored for the research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The women, who were all having one baby, answered questions about their medical histories and diet. They also had measurements taken, such as blood pressure, and underwent an ultrasound scan between 19 and 21 weeks. Details about the babies were also collected after birth.
Experts found that a healthy diet, including a high intake of fruit (at least three pieces a day) in the month leading up to conception, led to a higher chance the woman would have an uncomplicated pregnancy.
They also discovered that a healthy body mass index (BMI) and normal blood pressure boosted the chance there would be fewer problems.
Women who were in paid work when they were 15 weeks pregnant were also less likely to experience complications.
This could be because these women are less likely to abuse drugs and could be more likely to have an income which allows them to eat more healthily, the authors suggested.
While calling for further studies, the researchers said 24,674 more women a year could have an uncomplicated pregnancy if high blood pressure was brought under control.
Overall, 61% of the women in the study had an uncomplicated pregnancy.
The most common reasons for a complicated pregnancy in the mother were high blood pressure (8%) and pre-eclampsia (5%). In babies, the issues were being small for gestational age (11%) and premature birth (4%).
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