The baby’s preference for certain foods begins in the womb, as the flavors of the foods the mother eats reach him through the amniotic fluid and thus begin to develop his own tastes.
For the first time, a new study from the University of Durham (United Kingdom) published in the journal Psychological Science allows us to discover, thanks to 4D ultrasound images, the curious reactions of babies to certain foods. In this case, carrot, with a sweet taste, versus kale, with a bitter taste.
The research was carried out with healthy fetuses from 100 women between the ages of 18 and 40 from the south of England, who were between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant.
Babies react to flavors in the womb
The amniotic fluid is the first medium with which the baby interacts, and through it he can receive sensory stimuli , such as temperature, and chemical stimuli, such as the taste and smell of food, which he receives through taste and smell.
This is the first study to provide direct evidence of human fetal responsiveness to flavors in utero and to capture frame-by-frame facial movements .
“We decided to do this study to understand more about fetal capacities for taste and smell in the womb, ” study author Beyza Ustun, a researcher at the University’s Fetal and Neonatal Research Laboratory , told CNN .
They smile with the carrot and cry with the kale
35 women were put into an experimental group that consumed an organic kale capsule, 35 were put into a group that took a carrot capsule, and 30 were put into a control group that was not exposed to either flavor. The first two groups were asked not to consume anything for at least one hour before starting the study.
Twenty minutes after consuming the capsules, the exploration of the babies’ reactions to the different flavors began.
Thus, we can see that most of the babies exposed to the taste of the carrot make a gesture of pleasure . They stretch the corners of the lips, which we usually associate with a smile.
Instead, when babies are exposed to the taste of kale or kale, most cringe . Pull the corners of the lips down, making a pressure gesture, which we usually associate with a face of disgust, sadness or tears .
The results show that fetuses in the last trimester of pregnancy are mature enough to distinguish the different flavors transferred by the maternal diet.
“By now, we all know the importance of a (healthy) diet for children. There are many healthy vegetables, but unfortunately with a bitter taste that they do not usually like,” said the researcher. And it suggests that we could direct preferences towards certain foods by exposing the baby since it is in the womb so that it can more easily get used to them.
If the mother eats a variety of healthy foods, it will be the flavors that the baby will recognize when it is born, having an impact on a healthy and balanced diet.