Maternal nutrition is a key determinant of pregnancy outcome. Simple nutritional interventions prior to conception can prevent a significant proportion of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. In low-income countries, almost one in two adolescent girls are at risk of unplanned pregnancy. This is complicated by the fact that there is a high incidence of perinatal deaths among babies born to adolescent mothers. In this presentation, Dr Bhutta outlined the importance of preconception care and nutrition, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Optimization of maternal weight, micronutrient supplementation and provision of healthy nutrition and supplementation are important interventions. Further, he presented the findings of a robust systematic review which included 1,000 studies to determine the effectiveness of evidence-based preconception care. In countries where there is a high burden of maternal and newborn deaths, preconception care provides opportunities for delivering simple interventions (such as nutrition improvement) that can have a significant impact on the long-term health of women and their babies.