Lead author Dr Marie Pedersen said: 'Stillbirth is one of the most neglected tragedies in global health today.'

London - Women who live near their mother are more likely to become mothers themselves.

One reason is that relatives can provide help with looking after a young child, a study by University of Essex researchers shows.

It also found that a mother’s influence is a major pressure on women to have children.

The researchers believe that having potential childcare close by helps a woman's psychological state, but say even they were surprised by the strength of the link.

They looked at a series of studies carried out on nearly 2,000 women where records were kept on their fertility but also their lifestyle, health and social status.

This included questions about their relationship with their immediate family, their extended family and their networks of friends.

Those women trying for a baby and getting pregnant more quickly tended to have their family nearby, not just for their first child but for subsequent children, too.

Dr Paul Mathews from the University of Essex said: “We were surprised that we actually found a significant effect.

“We thought that maybe there might be a relationship, but we were surprised that the relationship remained even after we controlled for a whole myriad of social and economic background factors.

“Comparing two young women who have effectively the same income, education, religion, ethnicity, the young woman who is closer to her family still seems to find it significantly easier to have children.

“We know that having kin around is beneficial in terms of having children in high-fertility resource-poor populations, both in developing countries and in historical Europe.

“We were surprised that even in a very different setting, a modern technologically advanced society such as Britain, we still see the same pattern.”

Economically, having “free” childcare from a relative seems important to would-be moms, particularly for mothers of one child to go on and have a second one.

Yet women may be fooling themselves that this is the best option, said the researchers, for it could also be preventing them from finding much better paid work in areas much further away.

Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: “The support of extended family is important to the wellbeing of mothers after they've given birth.” - Daily Mail