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.
A study of women undergoing IVF at Massachusetts General Hospital found that over-35s who ate the most portions of dairy each day were 21 per cent more likely to have a successful pregnancy than those who ate the least.
Delegates at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting in Hawaii were told the findings could be linked to hormones from the pregnant cows producing the milk.
Women eating the most dairy products had at least three portions a day of foods such as milk, cream, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream, while those eating the least had less than 1.34 servings.
Jorge Chavarro, of Harvard University, one of the study’s authors, said: “Cows are milked mostly while they are pregnant, and the hormones produced in the placenta during pregnancy can cross freely into milk.
“So there is lots of progesterone.”
Progesterone is the hormone which helps embryos to “stick” in the womb.
Dr Chavarro said the researchers had expected dairy to have a negative effect.
He said, as infertility treatment was expensive, “being able to identify factors that are potentially modifiable is of great interest”.
However, Dr Chavarro said he would not necessarily recommend that women trying for a baby to eat more dairy as evidence was at an early stage.