Science Writing, Sep 22 (EFE).- The facial expression of a group of unborn babies, captured by 4D ultrasound, is for a group of scientists the first direct evidence that the fetus reacts to the flavors of food eaten by the mother .
The team led by Durham University (UK) performed ultrasound scans on more than 100 pregnant women to see how the fetuses reacted to carrot or kale flavors shortly after the mothers ate them.
Fetuses exposed to carrots showed more “laughing face” responses, while those exposed to kale showed more “crying face” responses.
The authors, who publish their findings in Psychological Science, believe they could deepen our understanding of the development of human taste and olfactory receptors and suggest that what pregnant women eat could influence the taste preferences of babies after birth.
Human beings experience taste through a combination of taste and smell. In fetuses, it is thought that this could occur by inhaling and swallowing amniotic fluid in the womb.
By observing the facial reactions of fetuses “one can assume that a series of chemical stimuli pass through the maternal diet to the environment of the fetus”, in the words of Benoist Schaal, from the University of Burgundy (France). , one of the signatories.
The team, led by Beyza Ustun of Durham University, said it was ‘really amazing to see unborn babies reacting to the flavors of kale or carrot during scans and sharing those moments with their parents’ .
The study group consisted of women aged 18 to 40, at 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, who were given a capsule containing about 400 milligrams of carrot or kale powder about 20 minutes before each scan.
Participants were not allowed to consume any foods or flavored drinks one hour before the exam, and they did not eat anything with carrots or kale that day, to control for factors that may affect fetal reactions.
The responses observed in both flavor groups, compared to those of fetuses in a control group who were not exposed to either flavor, showed that exposure to a small amount of carrot or kale flavor ” was enough to stimulate a reaction,” the university said.
This study could have “important implications for understanding the first evidence of fetal abilities to perceive and discriminate between the different tastes and smells of foods consumed by their mothers”, according to another of the research authors, Nadja Reissland.
The researchers say their findings could also help educate mothers about the importance of flavors and healthy eating during pregnancy.