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If a pregnant woman eats carrot, that will make the unborn baby show a smiling face, study reveals

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The facial expression of a group of unborn babies, captured through 4D ultrasound, constitutes for a group of scientists the first direct evidence that the fetus reacts to the flavors of the food eaten by the mother.

The team led by the University of Durham (UK) carried out ultrasound scans on more than 100 pregnant women to see how the fetuses reacted to the flavors of carrot or kale shortly after the mothers had eaten them.

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Fetuses exposed to carrot showed more “laugh face” responses, while those exposed to kale showed more “cry face” responses, the university said in a statement.

The authors, who publish their findings in Psychological Sciencebelieve that they could further 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.

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Observing the facial reactions of fetuses “we 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.

Unborn reactions to flavors

The team, led by Beyza Ustun of Durham University, said it was “really amazing to see unborn babies react to the tastes of kale or carrot during scans and share those moments with their parents.”

The study group consisted of women ages 18 to 40, at 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, who received a capsule containing approximately 400 milligrams of carrot or kale powder about 20 minutes before each scan.

Participants were not allowed to have any foods or flavored drinks one hour before the scan, and they also did not eat anything with carrot or kale that day, to control for factors that might affect fetal reactions.

The reactions observed in both flavor groups, compared with those of fetuses in a control group that 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 the different tastes and smells of food eaten by their mothers,” according to another of the signatories of the investigation Nadja Reissland.

The researchers say their findings could also help inform mothers about the importance of flavors and healthy diets during pregnancy. (YO)

Source: Eluniverso

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