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Prenatal Flavours

Foetuses sensing flavours captured on ultrasound scans

10 December 2022

Prenatal Flavours

You may have heard of stories of expectant parents talking to their ‘bump’ in case they can hear, or getting a kick from the baby if they feel your hand. But what about their sense of taste? Can they turn their noses up at flavours before they are born? Well it turns out they can! Researchers recorded foetal facial expressions after mothers were given a particular flavour to eat. Here, ultrasound scans show the foetus’ expression before (left) and after (right) the mother had eaten some kale, apparently showing its reaction to the bitter flavour. This shows that a foetus can detect and distinguish different flavours whilst in the womb. It could also mean that child food preferences could be influenced before birth depending on the mother’s diet. Perhaps if a mother consumed lots of kale during pregnancy, then their child wouldn’t dislike that flavour profile later in life.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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