Carrots make babies smile in their womb, study finds

Cavan Images/Getty Images/Cavan Images RF USA, Indiana, DeMotte

Cavan Images/Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

The diet of pregnant women could impact the food preferences of babies once born.

SCIENCE – Do carrots really make you lovable? It would seem so, and this from an early age. Scientists from the universities of Durham and Burgundy have shown that babies in their mother’s womb react differently to tastes and smells. For this study, published this Thursday, September 21 in the journal Psychological Science, 100 women aged 18 to 40 and 32 to 36 weeks pregnant underwent 4D ultrasounds. The researchers observed the facial expressions of future babies when their mother ate carrots or kale. Result: the fetuses exposed to the carrot showed “a laughing face. »

Those whose mothers had eaten cabbage presented “a tearful face”, according to the researchers. But how do fetuses perceive flavors? Scientists believe that this mechanism could occur by swallowing the amniotic fluid present in the uterus.

“A number of studies had suggested that babies could taste and smell in the womb, but these were based on results after birth, our study is the first to highlight these reactions before delivery”said Beyza Ustun, a researcher at Durham University and lead author of the study.

Fetal and Neonatal Research lab, Durham University

Fetal and Neonatal Research lab, Durham University

The smile of a baby (on the right) when his mother eats carrots.

The importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy

“By observing the facial reactions of fetuses, we can surmise that a series of chemical stimuli pass through the mother’s diet into the environment of the fetus”detailed Professor Benoist Schaal, of the National Center for Scientific Research-University of Burgundy, co-author of the study.

“This could play a major role in our understanding of the development of our taste and olfactory receptors, as well as the perception and memory related to them”, he continued. The researchers say their findings could help better inform mothers about the importance of healthy eating during pregnancy.

The study authors also began monitoring these fetuses to see if the diet of pregnant women might impact babies’ food preferences once born.

The objective of this new study? See if repeated exposure of these fetuses to less appreciated flavors could, over time, cause them to become accustomed to them in order to be better accepted by newborns when they taste them for the first time. And so that then, perhaps, your children no longer hesitate to eat steamed broccoli.

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