Video. More and more women are leaving it later in life to start a family. Now almost a third of all births in the South in 2012 were women aged 35 and over. That's despite fertility in women decreasing with age.
The figures have backed up the findings of a report by the Royal College of Midwives into the state of maternity services.
Charlotte Wilkins spoke to Kirsti Nicole Hadley, Cathy Warwick from the Royal College of Midwives, Claire Hughes-Jones from Brighton Mums and Jane Skelton from Sussex Downs Fertility Centre.
Researchers at the University of Southampton have discovered that more vitamin D during pregnancy gives children stronger muscles.
Low vitamin D status has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children, but little is known about how variation in a mother’s status during pregnancy affects her child.
Vitamin D levels were measured in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy. When the children were four years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured. Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child.
Lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton said, “These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health.
"Muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures."
Mothers who eat more salmon before giving birth boost levels of a vital nutrient in their breast milk, but could lower levels of disease-fighting antibodies they pass on while feeding their baby, researchers have found.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, are crucial during early childhood when they are needed for optimal growth and development. They help the growth of a baby's brain and eyes, and may also help the development of healthy blood vessels, heart, and immune system.
As a result, pregnant women are encouraged to eat one or two servings a week of certain kinds of oily fish known to provide high levels of omega-3.
However, very little is known about the influence of eating oily fish during pregnancy on the omega-3 fatty acid content of the mother's milk, and on immune substances, such as the antibodies passed from mother to baby during breastfeeding.
The protection against infection that this provides to vulnerable newborns is one of the reasons why breastfeeding is strongly recommended by health professionals in the first months after birth.
A European consortium of researchers, led by the University of Southampton and the University of Reading, collaboratively conducted a dietary intervention study in which pregnant women were randomly assigned to eat their normal diet, or one high in salmon.
Researchers found that those mothers that had eaten salmon during the latter stages of their pregnancy increased the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in milk during the first month after birth.
But it also lowered levels of secretory immunoglobulin-A (sIgA) - an important antibody that helps protect the newborn against infection.