High Dairy Intake Improves Reproductive Outcomes

November 1, 2014

Women with high dairy diets have higher live birth rates after IVF; maternal diets high in butterfat can ameliorate effects of BPA exposure on embryos in rats.

Milk does an embryo good. Or, rather, calcium can improve embryo outcome and quality.

Research presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Honolulu, HI, showed that higher calcium intake results in better reproductive outcomes than lower dairy consumption.

One study – Dairy Intake in Women and In Vitro Fertilization Outcomes – reported a correlation between higher live birth rates and high dairy consumption for IVF patients.

In the study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, women in subfertile couples had their diets assessed using a food frequency questionnaire prior to undergoing IVF.  Outcomes for fertilization rates, embryo quality, implantation, pregnancy and live birth rates were reported for patients who completed their cycles within 18 months of the questionnaire.

When outcomes were correlated with patients’ dietary information, the researchers found that the women consuming the highest amounts of dairy  (more than three servings per day) had a 21% greater chance of having a live birth than those consuming the least dairy (less than 1.34 servings per day).

Another study, High Fat Butter Ameliorates the Impaired Embryo Implantation of Female Rats Exposed to Dietary Bisphenol-A, conducted at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Hospital on rats showed that a maternal diet rich in butterfat can ameliorate some of the harmful effects of bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure on embryos.

In the study, female rats were placed on various diets incorporating different amounts of butterfat and different concentrations of BPA. After the rats were mated, embryo implantation and quality were checked. The researchers found that the rats on the high butterfat diet without BPA produced the largest embryos, while rats who had been exposed to BPA in their diet without addition of butterfat, produced the smallest embryos, which also lacked trophoblasts and were incapable of implantation. However, including high butterfat in a diet containing BPA enabled the rats to produce embryos larger than those from the BPA-only group and without developmental deficiencies. For rats that were not exposed to BPA, a diet in which butterfat accounted for 40% of calories resulted in better embryo development than a diet with only 4% of calories from butterfat.

Kurt Barnhart, MD, President of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility noted, “These studies point us in an interesting direction for future research into the nutrients found in dairy which may promote embryo growth and development.”