Is it possible to cajole children into eating vegetables without getting your hackles rise first? Serious job, that, but boffins reveal it can be made much easier if feeding kids with greens begins at the earliest stages of pregnancy.
Philadelphian scientists from Monell Chemical Senses Center came up with the discovery that babies form their food preferences while they are in the womb. The study that was published in the Pediatrics journal shows that flavors are transferred from the mother to the fetus in the amniotic fluid.
Lead researcher Julie Mennella explained to NPR News that a number of flavors were proven to find their way to the baby via the amniotic fluid or breast milk, among them garlic, mint, vanilla, anise and carrot.
Experiments were conducted in which women were given garlic capsules and sugar capsules before they had their amniotic fluid sampled routinely. Then researchers gave the samples to people to smell – and the flavor of garlic proved to be easily recognizable. So these smells are carried to the babies in the womb who certainly taste them since small accounts for 90% of taste.
The next stage was to establish whether the children retain memories of the tastes they were exposed to. For this three groups of pregnant women were made up, one group drinking carrot juice daily while they were pregnant, members of the second group taking juice while they were breastfeeding, and the third group took no carrot at all.
As soon as their children could eat solid food, researchers offered them portions of cereal made with and without carrot juice. Those babies who had already been acquainted with carrot flavor via breast milk or the amniotic fluid showed definite preference for carroty cereal.
Therefore it’s highly natural that children begin to get accustomed to foods and tastes they are likely to get when eating together with their parents later from the earliest time possible.
Linda Bartoshuk, taste researcher at the University of Florida, is one of those scientists who are deeply interested in Dr. Mennella and her team’s findings.
In her interview to NPR News she said these results go a long way towards the possibility of building up children’s health from the very beginning. Exposing a baby to healthy flavors – carrots, broccoli, lima beans and the like – while in the womb may be a sure way to set most salubrious food priorities for the whole life, she said.