Scientists have discovered that unborn babies, when exposed to the taste of turnip in the womb, roll their faces in a tearful expression. A change in the mood of the fetus appears shortly after the mother eats vegetables.

The Guardian reported this with reference to a study, stating that children are twice as likely to frown when they smell the scent of curling iron than when they taste a carrot.

Previous studies have indicated that people’s food preferences may start before birth and may be influenced by the mother’s diet. However, according to its authors, the new research is the first to focus directly on the reactions of unborn children to different tastes.

The study authors reported in Psychological Science that there are odors in the amniotic fluid that come from the mother’s diet. Taste buds are able to detect chemicals related to taste from 14 weeks of gestation and smell molecules can be seen from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

To see if the fetus distinguishes certain tastes, the team of scientists examined ultrasound images of nearly 70 pregnant women aged 18 to 40 from north-east England, who were divided into two groups. The first group had to eat a capsule of cabbage powder 20 minutes before the ultrasound, and the other group had to take a capsule of carrot powder. The researchers asked all the women not to eat anything else for an hour before the shoot.

The study authors also examined archived photos of 30 women who did not receive any capsules. The team then analyzed a range of different facial movements of the fetus, including structures resembling laughter or crying, frame by frame. In all, the researchers examined 180 images of 99 fetuses, which they scanned at 32 weeks of gestation, 36 weeks, or both.

Among other things, the study authors found that fetuses had a crying-like expression about twice as many times when the mother consumed the cabbage capsule compared to the carrot capsule or no capsule. However, when the mother ingested the carrot capsule, the unborn babies “smiled” twice more than she swallowed the cabbage capsule or any capsule she swallowed.

It’s not over yet and the baby is already smiling

The clarity of the results was surprising, said study co-author Benoist Schall, of the Center for Taste and Eating Behavior at the University of Burgundy. “They mean that the mother has not yet eaten, and that the fetus already knows or is able to perceive what he has eaten,” he said.

His colleague Besa Auston added that her team is now trying to investigate children’s reactions to different tastes after birth. “Hopefully, we’d see fewer negative reactions if they were exposed to cabbage before birth,” she said.

The researchers said the study could also provide a useful way to talk to pregnant women about what they eat. “We know from other research that if the mother eats a varied diet, such as vegetables, fruits, etc., the children are less selective,” said Nadia Reissland, who was involved in the study.

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