A new study published this week found that fetuses develop more “crying faces” when exposed to the taste of kale eaten in the womb, and more “smiling faces” when exposed to carrots.
“The results of this study have important implications for understanding the earliest evidence of the ability of the fetus to perceive and discriminate different tastes,” the researchers wrote in a study published in Sage Journals.
They looked at the healthy fetuses of about 100 women in England. The researchers gave the mothers capsules containing powdered versions of the two foods. 35 women were assigned to an experimental group that consumed an organic kale capsule, 35 women that took a carrot capsule, and 30 women that were not exposed to the wilt flavor.
About 20 minutes later, the researchers said, 4D ultrasounds showed that most of the fetuses exposed to the kale were grimacing, while the majority of the fetuses exposed to the carrot appeared to be smiling. The control group, on the other hand, had the same response.
Keen on carrots, not so keen on kale…
This is the first direct evidence that fetuses react differently to different tastes and smells in the womb 👉 https://t.co/13UKS7IjVMpic.twitter.com/xAqXGDqxQl
— Durham University (@durham_uni) 22 September 2022
“When the fetuses were exposed to the taste of carrots, they were more likely to show ‘laugh-face’ reactions, and when they were exposed to the taste of kale, they were more likely to show ‘cry-face’ reactions,” the researchers wrote.
“We also found that facial responses to tastes became more complex as the fetus matured,” they added.
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Now, based on the findings, the study’s researchers propose that repeated exposure to certain flavors in utero may be a factor in determining food preference after birth. They believe that if a fetus is regularly exposed to a vegetable like kale while in the womb, it may be more likely to tolerate or enjoy it later in life.
The researchers also said that mothers who follow a healthy diet during pregnancy may also find that their babies eat less. However, the study authors noted that further research is still needed to determine whether the fetus is capable of experiencing emotions, likes and dislikes.