Newborns can recognise smells they’ve been exposed to during the final days of pregnancy, suggesting a mum-to-be’s diet can influence her unborn baby’s taste.
Scientists from the European Centre for Taste Science tested 24 babies, half of whose mums had eaten aniseed biscuits in the 10 days leading up to birth. Experiments carried out just three hours after birth and again four days later showed the babies who had been exposed to aniseed in the womb could recognise the smell and appeared to like it.
In contrast, those babies whose mums hadn’t eaten the aniseed biscuits would either pull a disgusted face and turn away, or not react at all.
Dr Benoist Schaal, who conducted the study, said babies in the womb could sense flavours by inhaling amniotic fluid.
“What the mother takes in a certain dose goes also to the foetus during a period when the brain is being formed, probably with long term consequences,” Dr Benoist said.