Healthy eating in early life can positively affect reproduction

Eating well in early life could have a positive impact on your reproductive success as an adult, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

It says it’s the first study of its kind to show that early life food can have a major influence on the life-long fertility of individuals.

The research team, led by Dr Ian Rickard from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University, used a combination of church record data on births in 18th century Finland and agricultural data on crop yields of rye and barley from the same time and place.

The study showed that in men and women born into poor families, food in very early life was related to the probability of reproducing. Approximately half of the poor people who were born in a year in which both rye and barley yields were low would not go on to have any children during their entire lives.

However, almost everyone from a poor family born in bumper harvest years, when both crops were high, would reproduce at least once in their life.

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