(ORDO NEWS) — Using 4D ultrasound scanning, scientists compared the facial expressions of babies in the womb, while the women themselves tried different flavors. The study showed that even before birth, children are able to distinguish tastes and smells and react to them in different ways.
Scientists from Durham University (UK) studied the reaction of unborn babies to the taste of various foods that their mothers ate. To do this, they performed an ultrasound 4D scan of 100 pregnant women.
This technology allows you to get a three-dimensional image of the fetus in real time and examine its motor activity and changes in facial expressions.
According to the authors of the study, the diet of pregnant women may influence the taste preferences of their children after birth and potentially have implications for healthy eating habits.
People perceive taste through its combination with smell. It is believed that in the fetus, this can occur when the amniotic fluid is inhaled and swallowed.
A number of studies have shown that babies can taste and smell in the womb, but they were all based on postnatal experiments. The new study made it possible to observe these reactions even before the birth of the child.
The experiment involved pregnant women aged 18 to 40 years at the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy. Scientists observed how the facial expressions of the fetus changed 20 minutes after their mothers swallowed a capsule containing about 400 milligrams of cabbage or carrot flavoring.
The facial responses observed in both taste groups, compared to control infants who were not exposed to flavors, showed that exposure to even a small amount of the substance was enough to cause a reaction.
In addition, the facial expressions of babies differed depending on the taste. Those exposed to the carrot flavor were more likely to show a “laughing face” and those whose mothers had ingested the cabbage were more likely to show a “crying face.”
The study is critical to understanding the earliest evidence of a fetus’s ability to taste and smell the foods their mothers consume. It also has implications for our understanding of the development of human taste and olfactory receptors and associated perception and memory.
Now scientists are continuing to study the same babies after birth to evaluate how the flavors they encountered in the womb affected their taste preferences.
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