Ice cream may be the ultimate comfort food but a study suggests it could also help older women to have children.
Research has found that regularly eating dairy products significantly increases the chance of having a healthy baby.
Women over 35 undergoing IVF at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in the U.S. were asked to record their food during treatment.
Those who had the highest intake of ice cream, cream, yogurt and milk were 21% more likely to give birth than those who rarely ate dairy products.
Just three portions of dairy each day was enough to make a significant difference — the daily equivalent of a scoop of ice cream, one glass of milk and a slice of cheese.
The lead researcher, Dr. Jorge Chavarro, of Massachusetts General Hospital said cow’s milk contains hormones that improve the chances of an embryo implanting in the womb.
“We found that women who had the highest intake of dairy were more likely to have live births. For women under 35 there doesn’t seem to be an association but for women over 35 the association is much stronger.
“That is the exact opposite of what we expected to find.”
Two years ago, Chavarro proved that men who regularly ate large amounts of milk, cheese and yogurt, had poorer quality sperm.
It is also known that the sugar present in dairy products is toxic to the ovaries of animals, suggesting that it may also harm fertility for women.
Dairy products also contain the hormone progesterone which helps make the womb sticky so that embryos can implant. Progesterone is known to decrease in women as they age.
“It’s possible that some of the hormones may actually be helpful,” said Chavarro. “Even though it’s a very small amount, it is still the same hormone that helps the embryos implant.”
The research was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Hawaii.