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Home SCIENCE Kale taste makes unborn babies wince, research finds | Sciences

Kale taste makes unborn babies wince, research finds | Sciences

If the taste of kale makes you cringe, you’re not alone: ​​Researchers have observed that fetuses show a crying expression when exposed to vegetables in the womb.

While previous studies have suggested that our food preferences may begin before birth and may be influenced by the mother’s diet, the team says the new research is the first to directly look at unborn babies’ response to different tastes.

“[Previously researchers] I just saw what happens after birth in terms of what [offspring] prefer, but actually seeing the facial expressions of the fetus when they are being hit by the bitter or non-bitter taste, that’s something completely new,” said Professor Nadja Reissland, from Durham University, co-author of the research. .

Fetuses showed a crying expression twice as often when the mother consumed a capsule of kale compared to carrot. Photo: FETAP (Fetal Taste Preferences) Study/Fetal and Neonatal Research Laboratory/University of Durham/PA

writing in the diary psychological science, the team noted that aromas from the mother’s diet were present in the amniotic fluid. Taste buds can detect taste-related chemicals from 14 weeks gestation, and odor molecules can be detected from 24 weeks gestation.

To dig deeper into whether fetuses differentiate between specific flavours, the team analyzed ultrasound scans of nearly 70 pregnant women, aged 18-40, from north-east England, who were divided into two groups. One group was asked to take a powdered kale capsule 20 minutes before an ultrasound, and the other was asked to take a powdered carrot capsule. Mothers’ consumption of vegetables did not differ between the kale and carrot groups.

The team also examined scans of 30 women, taken from an archive, who were not given any capsules.

All women were asked to refrain from eating anything else in the hour before the scans.

The team then carried out a frame-by-frame analysis of the frequency of a number of different facial movements in the fetuses, including combinations that appeared to laugh or cry.

Overall, the researchers examined 180 scans of 99 fetuses, scanned at 32 weeks, 36 weeks, or both.

Among the results, the team found that fetuses showed a crying expression twice as often when the mother consumed a kale capsule compared to a carrot capsule or no capsule. However, when the mother ingested a carrot capsule, the fetuses adopted a laugh-like expression twice as often as when the mother swallowed a kale capsule or no capsule.

Lead author Dr Benoist Schaal, from the Center for Taste and Eating Behavior at the University of Burgundy, told The Guardian that the clarity of the results was surprising.

“[They mean] the mother has not finished her meal yet [when] the fetus is already conscious or capable of feeling what the mother has eaten,” he said.

Beyza Ustun, first author of the research, said the team was now looking to explore the reaction of babies after birth to different tastes. “Hopefully we’ll see fewer negative reactions if they were exposed to kale before birth,” she said.

Reissland added that the study could also offer a useful way to talk to pregnant women about what they eat. “What [we] What we know from other research is that if the mother has a varied diet, like vegetables and fruits, etc., the babies are much less picky eaters,” she said.

Dr. Julie Mennella, an expert in the field at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in the US, who was not involved in the study, said the research supported previous work showing that children begin to learn about their mother’s diet through the flavors of the food present in the amniotic fluid.

But he cautioned that the pregnant women were not randomly assigned to experimental or control groups, and the prior exposure of fetuses in the control group to different vegetables, including carrots and kale, was not known.

Professor Catherine Forestell, from the College of William & Mary, said the work provides a window into the chemosensory world of the human foetus.

“Future work that highlights individual differences in fetal responses to flavors and how they relate to maternal dietary habits and infant responses to food after birth will be of great interest,” Forestell added.

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