A woman's diet at the time that she becomes pregnant could affect her womb and the future health of her baby, according to new research.

The study carried out by the University of Southampton, published online in Human Reproduction, showed that the concentrations of amino acids in the uterine fluid of non-pregnant women were affected by diet.

The team found that a less healthy diet was associated with altered concentrations of amino acids compared to those with a healthy diet.

Dr Franchesca Houghton said: "This is the first report showing that diet can alter the nutrient composition of human uterine fluid, which nurtures the early embryo.

Baby's future health

"Since we know that the environment in which an early embryo develops is important for future health, recognising that it can be altered by diet is of great significance.

"In this study we concentrated on amino acids as these have many important roles for example as building blocks of protein, as a source of energy and as antioxidants.

"At this stage, our findings are not trying to give dietary advice to women but further research is now required to determine the impact of diet around the time of conception, on the uterine environment and embryo development."

The research was funded by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research and the University of Southampton.