Taste of kale makes unborn babies grimace, finds research | Science


If the taste of kale makes you mess up your face, you’re not alone: ​​Researchers have observed that fetuses elicit a crying expression when exposed to the greens in the womb.

While previous studies have suggested that our food preferences may start before birth and can be influenced by the mother’s diet, the team says the new research is the first to directly look at the response of unborn babies to different flavors.

“[Previously researchers] I just looked at what happens after birth in terms of what you do [offspring] Professor Nadia Reissland, of Durham University, who is a co-author of the research, said:

Gripping of the fetus.
The fetuses showed a crying expression about twice as many times when the mother ate the turnip capsule compared to the carrots. Photo: The FETAP (Fetal Taste Preferences) study / Fetal and Newborn Research Laboratory / Durham University / PA

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, the team wrote that odors from the mother’s diet were present in the amniotic fluid. Taste buds can detect chemicals related to taste from 14 weeks gestation, and smell molecules can be sensed from 24 weeks gestation.

To dig deeper into whether the fetuses distinguish certain flavors, the team looked at ultrasound scans of nearly 70 pregnant women aged 18 to 40 from north-east England, who were divided into two groups. One group was asked to take a capsule of turnip powder 20 minutes before the ultrasound scan, and the other group was asked to take a capsule of carrot powder. Maternal consumption of vegetables did not differ between the turnip and carrot group.

The team also examined photos of 30 women, taken from an archive, who had not been given any capsules.

All women were asked to refrain from eating anything else in the hour before the examination.

The team then performed a frame-by-frame analysis to replicate a range of different facial movements of the fetuses, including structures that resemble laughter or crying.

Overall, the researchers examined 180 radiographs from 99 fetuses, examined at either 32 weeks, 36 weeks, or both time points.

Among the findings, the team found that fetuses showed expression of crying twice as often when the mother ate the turnip capsule compared to the carrot capsule or did not consume a capsule. However, when the mother ingested a carrot capsule, the fetuses adopted a laughing-like expression twice as often as they did when the mother swallowed a turnip capsule or no capsule.

The work’s author, Dr. Benoist Schall, from the Center for Taste and Nutritional Behavior at the University of Burgundy, told The Guardian that the clarity of the results was surprising.

“[They mean] The mother hasn’t finished her meal yet [when] The fetus already knows or can feel what the mother ate.

Besa Auston, first author of the research, said the team is now looking at children’s reaction after birth to different flavors. “Hopefully, we’d see fewer adverse reactions, if they were exposed to cabbage before birth,” she said.

Resland added that the study could also offer a useful way to talk to pregnant women about what they eat. “what or what [we] You know from other research that in fact if the mother has a varied diet, such as vegetables, fruits, etc., the children will be less satisfying to eat.”

Dr. Julie Minella, an expert in the field from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the US, who was not involved in the study, noted that the research supports previous work showing that offspring begin to learn about a mother’s diet through food flavors in the amniotic fluid.

But she cautioned that pregnant women were not randomized to experimental or control groups, and that prior exposure of fetuses in the control group to different vegetables — including carrots and turnip — is unknown.

Professor Catherine Forrestl, from the College of William and Mary, said the work provided a window into the chemosensory world of the human fetus.

“Future work that highlights individual differences in fetal responses to flavors and how they relate to maternal dietary habits and infants’ responses to foods after birth will be of great interest,” Forrestel added.


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