Her Taste Becomes Your Taste

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 said. “Mother’s milk reflects the culture in which the child is born.” 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. 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. [And you thought that mom’s influence included heredity only!]