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Some sites claim that food eaten during pregnancy influences a child's future food preferences.

Research suggests babies born to mothers who eat lots of vegetables during pregnancy and/or while they are breast-feeding seem to have a greater affinity for the taste of vegetables.

Is this true? Are child's tastes developed during gestation?

  • The article you reference, links to an article describing the research they base this on. Is there something in particular about reference you distrust? (I'm trying to avoid an answer that simply links to the exact same research.) – Oddthinking Sep 11 '12 at 0:59
  • I think their experimental set is not statistically significant. Moreover, they tested it only for 'fruits'. What about vegetables that people 'generally' dislike (may be some items from studies (albeit more scientifically based than the one linked) – user13107 Sep 11 '12 at 7:53
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Research supports the hypothesis that the mother's diet during pregnancy and lactation can influence a child's future food preferences.

From (Crystal and Bernstein, 1998):

maternal dehydration, induced by moderate to severe vomiting during pregnancy, can lead to enhanced salt preference in offspring.

From (Mennella and Beauchamp, 1996), summarized by (Birch, 1999):

Recent research indicates that what the mother eats during pregnancy and lactation can affect a human infant’s very early flavor experience, which in turn shapes the formation of flavor preferences and ingestive behavior.

From (Bayol et al., 2007):

Results showed that 10 week-old rats born to mothers fed the junk food diet during gestation and lactation developed an exacerbated preference for fatty, sugary and salty foods at the expense of protein-rich foods when compared with offspring fed a balanced chow diet prior to weaning or during lactation alone.

From (Mennella et al., 2001):

Only those infants who were exposed to carrot flavor either prenatally (CW) or postnatally (WC) displayed fewer negative facial responses while eating the carrot-flavored cereal relative to the plain.

We demonstrated earlier that at least 1 flavor consumed by pregnant women, garlic, does enter amniotic fluid to levels detectable by the adult human nose.

References

Bayol, S. A., Farrington, S. J., & Stickland, N. C. (2007). A maternal'junk food'diet in pregnancy and lactation promotes an exacerbated taste for'junk food'and a greater propensity for obesity in rat offspring. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(4), 843-851.

Birch, L. L. (1999). Development of food preferences. Annual review of nutrition, 19(1), 41-62.

Crystal, S. R., & Bernstein, I. L. (1998). Infant salt preference and mother's morning sickness. Appetite, 30(3), 297-307.

Mennella, J. A., & Beauchamp, G. K. (1996). The early development of human flavor preferences.

Mennella, J. A., Jagnow, C. P., & Beauchamp, G. K. (2001). Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics, 107(6), e88-e88.

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