“We decided to do this study to learn more about the fetus’s ability to taste and smell in utero,” Beza Aston, a postgraduate researcher at the Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab at Durham University in the UK, said in an email on Thursday. told CNN via email.
Although some studies have suggested that babies can taste and smell in utero using postnatal findings, “our research is the first to show direct evidence of fetal responses to flavors in utero,” he said. Austin added.
“The results show that in the last 3 months of pregnancy, fetuses are mature enough to distinguish different flavors transmitted by the mother’s diet.”
The study looked at the fetuses of 100 healthy women aged 18 to 40 in north-east England who were between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant.
Of these, 35 women were put into an experimental group that ate an organic banana capsule, 35 were put into a group that took a carrot capsule, and 30 were put into a control group that was exposed to did not come the taste.
Participants were asked not to consume any food or flavored beverages for an hour before their scan. The mothers also did not eat or drink anything containing carrots or kale on the day of their scan to ensure that this would not affect the results.
Although the taste of carrots may be perceived as “sweet” by adults, according to research, bananas were chosen because they are more bitter to infants than other green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli or asparagus.
After waiting 20 minutes after consumption, the women underwent 4D ultrasound scans, which were compared with 2D images of the fetus.
Lip corner pulling, which indicates a smile or laugh, was significantly higher in the carrot group than in the banana and control group. While movements such as raising the upper lip, lowering the lower lip, pursing the lips, and their combination — indicating a crying face — were much more common in the black group than in the other groups.
“By now, we all know the importance of (a) healthy diet for kids. Unfortunately, there are (a) many healthy vegetables that taste bitter, which kids generally don’t like,” Austin said. said She added that the study showed that “we can manipulate the mother’s diet during pregnancy to change her preferences for such foods before birth.”
“We know that a healthy diet during pregnancy is critical to the health of children. And our evidence may help to understand how adjusting maternal diet can promote healthy eating habits in children. Is.”
Improved imaging technology
Advances in technology have allowed better images of the faces of fetuses in the womb, according to Professor Nadja Reisland, head of the Fetus and Neonatal Research Lab at Durham University. Raceland, who oversaw the research, developed the Fetal Observable Movement System (FMOS) with which 4D ultrasound scans were coded.
“As the technology gets more advanced, ultrasound imaging gets better and more accurate,” he told CNN, adding that it “allows us to see fetal facial movements in frame-by-frame detail and over time.” Allows to code along.”
According to the press release, the researchers have now begun a follow-up study with the same babies after birth to see if the tastes they experienced in the womb affected their acceptance of different foods in childhood. do
All women participating in the study were white and British.
“More research needs to be done with pregnant women from different cultural backgrounds,” Austin told CNN. “For example, I come from Turkey and in my culture, we like bitter food. It will be very interesting to see how Turkish children react to bitter taste.”
“Genetic differences in taste sensitivity (being a supertaster or non-taster) may influence fetal responses to bitter and non-bitter tastes,” she added.