Dietary patterns and fecundability in 2 prospective preconception cohorts

Am J Clin Nutr. 2022 Nov;116(5):1441-1451. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac213. Epub 2023 Feb 10.


Background: Diet is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of human fertility, with most research focused on specific nutrients or food groups. However, there has been limited assessment of the effect of dietary patterns on fertility.

Objectives: We evaluated the association between 4 dietary patterns [the alternative Mediterranean Diet (aMed), the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), the Danish Dietary Guidelines (DDGI), and the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII)] and fecundability in 2 preconception cohorts of couples trying to conceive: SF ( in Denmark and PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online) in North America.

Methods: Participants completed a baseline questionnaire on sociodemographic, anthropometric, and lifestyle factors and, 10 d later, a validated cohort-specific FFQ. We used data from these respective FFQs to calculate adherence to each dietary pattern. Participants completed bimonthly follow-up questionnaires for ≤12 mo or until pregnancy, whichever came first. We restricted analyses to 3429 SF and 5803 PRESTO participants attempting pregnancy for ≤6 cycles at enrollment. We used proportional probabilities regression models to estimate fecundability ratios (FRs) and 95% CIs, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: Greater DII, indicative of a less anti-inflammatory diet (i.e., poorer diet quality), was associated with reduced fecundability in both SF and PRESTO (DII ≥ -1.5 compared with < -3.3: FR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.71, 0.97 and FR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.93, respectively). In PRESTO, greater adherence to the aMed or to the HEI-2010 was associated with greater fecundability. In SF, there was no appreciable association between the aMed and fecundability, whereas greater adherence to the DDGI was associated with greater fecundability.

Conclusions: In prospective preconception cohort studies from Denmark and North America, higher-quality diets, including diets lower in inflammatory effects, were associated with greater fecundability.

Keywords: Dietary Inflammatory Index; Healthy Eating Index; Mediterranean diet; diet; dietary patterns; fecundability; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • North America
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies