Researchers have identified certain lifestyle factors that make it more likely for a woman to have a normal pregnancy.
The study, which involved several countries, including Ireland, said the beneficial factors include increasing fruit intake before pregnancy, being a healthy weight, reducing blood pressure, stopping drug and alcohol misuse, and being in paid employment during pregnancy.
Although further work is needed to determine whether these associations have causal importance, this study implies that targeted interventions that encourage women to make healthy choices before and during pregnancy "may increase the likelihood of normal pregnancy outcomes", said the authors in the study published in the 'British Medical Journal'.
Previous research has focused on the association between risk factors and subsequent adverse pregnancy outcomes, but little is known about factors associated with subsequent healthy pregnancies.
Researchers from the UK, Ireland and New Zealand therefore carried out a study to identify factors at 15-20 weeks' gestation associated with a subsequent uncomplicated pregnancy.
Their aim was to highlight those factors amenable to change before pregnancy, thereby informing decisions about interventions that could increase the likelihood of a normal outcome.
A total of 5,628 healthy women with singleton births (and no previous pregnancies) were recruited to the screening for the study between November 2004 and August 2008 (3,196 from Australia and New Zealand and 2,432 from the UK and Ireland).
A lower proportion of women in the UK and Ireland had an uncomplicated pregnancy (58pc), compared with women in Australasia (63pc).