Researchers say action for healthier pregnancies and babies means increasing intake of vitamins, being free of smoking and alcohol and keeping to a healthy diet and weight before conception.
The risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant, according to new study.
New research has shown that a lack of protein in a father's diet affects sperm quality which can have a direct impact on the long-term health of their offspring.
Preconception binge drinking may have negative consequences on future offspring's growth, social interactions and development during puberty according to a rat-based study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Ideally, women should plan a pregnancy months in advance, experts say. Some women spend more time planning their summer holiday than they do a pregnancy, a survey by baby charity Tommy's suggests. Only one in five started taking folic acid before stopping contraception, while one in six didn't take it at all.
Micronutrient supplementation started in pregnancy can correct important maternal nutrient deficiencies, but it is not sufficient to improve child health, according to research in The Lancet.
A child's health can be compromised not only by a mother who smokes or drinks during pregnancy, but by the obesity and poor diet of both parents well before the child is conceived, researchers say.
A myriad of studies are showing biological fathers who drink alcohol may have a significant role in causing health problems in their children.