Kale makes babies 'cry' in the womb, carrots make them smile, new study finds
By Naomi White|
Want to make your baby smile in the womb? Eat a carrot. But kale could make them cry, new research has found.
The study by Durham University, published in the journal Psychological Science looked at the facial expressions of fetuses after their mums consumed different foods and found some surprising results.
Taking 4D ultrasounds of the 100 pregnant women involved, whose babies were all between 32-36 weeks gestation, they found distinct differences between the reactions, based on what foods they had eaten.
READ MORE: The $29 item mum 'couldn't live without'
Two groups of women were given a capsule of either powdered carrots or kale (containing roughly 400mg worth), while a third control group had neither. The flavours were transferred to the fetus through the amniotic fluid.
Taking scans 20 minutes later, researchers from the ?university's Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab found "babies whose mums had the carrot showed a 'laughter-face', while those who ate kale had a 'cry-face'." The babies in the third group had a neutral expression.
The study's authors believe this could help provide better insight into how a mother's diet during pregnancy influences both their baby's taste preferences after birth and their diets later in life. ?
The study is the first to look at the reactions of babies to taste and smell in the womb, lead researcher ?Beyza Ustun said.
"As a result, we think that this repeated exposure to flavours before birth could help to establish food preferences post-birth, which could be important when thinking about messaging around healthy eating and the potential for avoiding 'food-fussiness' when weaning," Ustun said.
"It was really amazing to see unborn babies' reaction to kale or carrot flavours during the scans and share those moments with their parents."
The research also involved researchers from Aston University and the University of Burgundy, who are now conducting a follow-up study with the same babies post-birth to see if the flavours they were exposed to in the womb have influenced how they accept a range of foods.
READ MORE: Daycare worker reveals parent habits she really 'hates'
"It could be argued that repeated prenatal flavour exposures may lead to preferences for those flavours experienced postnatally. In other words, exposing the fetus to less 'liked' flavours, such as kale, might mean they get used to those flavours in utero," said co-author Professor Jackie Blissett from Aston University.
"The next step is to examine whether fetuses show less 'negative' responses to these flavours over time, resulting in greater acceptance of those flavours when babies first taste them outside of the womb."
READ MORE: Mum mocked for naming son after character from teen drama