- NEW YORK (Reuters
Health) - It is never too early to cultivate a gourmand, results of a study
- According to researchers with the Monell Chemical Senses
Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, exposure to flavors either through
amniotic fluid or in breast milk can influence a child's food preferences.
The study adds to a body of research showing that the food tastes of animals
are also developed in the womb.
- This finding suggests a mechanism by which the fetus
receives information about foods that are safe and available, according
to Dr. Julie A. Mennella, one of the study's authors. It is also a way
for a fetus or young child to learn about the culture.
- ``Very early flavor experiences may provide the foundation
for cultural differences,'' Mennella told Reuters Health. ''Mother's milk
reflects the culture in which the child is born.''
- In the study, presented at a recent meeting of the American
Psychiatric Society in Miami, groups of pregnant women drank water or carrot
juice during pregnancy and lactation.
- One group drank 300 milliliters (ml) of carrot juice
four days a week for three consecutive weeks during their last trimester
and again during the first two months of breast-feeding. Another group
drank water during pregnancy and carrot juice during lactation and a third
group drank water during both pregnancy and lactation.
- Researchers videotaped infants as they ate about four
weeks after mothers had introduced cereal into their child's diet. In two
separate sessions, the infants were fed cereal prepared with either water
or carrot juice until they refused at least three times. After each feeding
session, mothers rated how much their infants had enjoyed the food on a
- According to results, infants who had been exposed to
the flavor of carrots through amniotic fluid or breast milk ate more of
the carrot-flavored cereal than infants who were not exposed to the flavor
of carrots. These infants also appeared to enjoy the carrot-flavored cereal
more, according to the mothers.
- ``These findings are the first experimental evidence
that exposure to a flavor, either pre- or post-natally, influences the
human infants' acceptance and enjoyment of similarly flavored foods,''
report Dr. Coren P. Jagnow, the study' lead author, and colleagues.
- The study was funded through a grant from the Gerber
Companies Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
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