Pregnancy: what vegetable should you eat to make your baby smile?

Pregnancy what vegetable should you eat to make your baby

A British study shows that at 8 months of pregnancy, babies react to what you eat. Some vegetables make them smile while others make them cringe.

The diet of pregnant women exposes fetuses to a variety of flavors involving smell and taste. For the first time, British researchers have measured in utero babies’ reactions to what their mothers ate. They thus discovered that the babies were smiling when their mum ate carrots and that they grimaced when they ate cabbage.

For this study, researchers from the Fetal and Neonatal Research Laboratory at Durham University recruited around 100 pregnant women aged 32 to 36 weeks. A third of them received carrot powder capsules, a third received kale powder capsules and the remaining third received nothing. They then measured the face movements of the fetuses, frame by frame, and were able to verify that some had the same pout characteristic of a grimace and others had a smile. Babies in the control group showed no signs.

“Fetuses exposed to the carrot flavor showed more frequent lip-corner movement and a smile pattern whereas fetuses exposed to the kale flavor showed more lower lip drooping and a crying grimace” explain the authors of the study, published in the journal Psychological science. “But we cannot say whether this movement indicates an aversion to the vegetable or if it is simply a reaction to the bitter taste of kale” underlines Dr. Nadja Reissland, co-author of the study.

For the doctor, this study could indicate how babies’ eating habits can be shaped from exposure to flavors in the womb. “If the mother eats healthily during her pregnancy, the babies could then eat vegetables more easily” suggests Dr. Reissland.

Source : Flavor Sensing in Utero and Emerging Discriminative Behaviors in the Human FetusPsychological science, September 2022

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