Babies Develop a Taste for Foods Based on Mother's Pregnancy Diet, Says Study

Health & Wellness on 08.09.11


Plenty of research has shown a link between a woman's diet during pregnacy and her baby's health -- from making kids predisposed to a junk food habit to using fish oil before birth to help newborns fight colds -- but recent research suggests that the child isn't just getting the nutritional benefits from what you're eating: He could also be developing a like and dislike of certain foods while in the womb.

NPR reports on the study, performed at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and published in Pediatrics, which found that the amniotic fluid around the baby can transmit the tastes of many foods the mother is eating -- including vanilla, garlic, mint, and anise, said study author Julie Mennella.

Researchers also wondered if exposing children to certain flavors before birth would help them develop their "food memory" and make them more likely to eat those foods after infancy, so they analyzed three groups of women: those who drank carrot juice during pregnancy, those who drank it while breastfeeding, and those who didn't drink it at all. When the babies were old enough, they ate cereal mixed with water or carrot juice -- and the ones whose mothers had made carrot juice part of their diet ate more of the carrot cereal than the water-based cereal. 

So what does this mean for your baby? Adding healthy vegetables to a prenatal diet could help your kids develop a taste for them in the future, but there's another benefit, too, says NPR:


Since mothers tend to feed their children what they eat themselves, it is nature's way of introducing babies to the foods and flavors that they are likely to encounter in their family and their culture.
"Each individual baby is having their own unique experience, it's changing from hour to hour, from day to day, from month to month," says Mennella. "As a stimulus it's providing so much information to that baby about who they are as a family and what are the foods their family enjoys and appreciates."



More from NPR

Photo: Martin Cathrae/Creative Commons 

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