A mother’s poor diet around the time of conception can cause premature birth, according to new research in sheep.



If the same is true for humans, and there is some evidence that it is, bad nutrition could account for some of the 40 per cent of premature births that remain unexplained in developed countries. Premature birth is by far the most common cause of death in newborn babies, and its incidence in western societies has increased in the past decade.



Previous studies have shown that reduced maternal nutrition – in women with anorexia, for example – can cause lower birthweight in babies born after a full-length pregnancy.
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