Do foetuses react to smell and taste while still in the womb?
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October 01, 2022 08:15 pm | Updated 08:15 pm IST

A 4D ultrasound scan shows a foetus yawning in the womb at 24 weeks during a study by Durham and Lancaster Universities. File

A 4D ultrasound scan shows a foetus yawning in the womb at 24 weeks during a study by Durham and Lancaster Universities. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Scientists have recorded the first direct evidence that babies react differently to various smells and tastes while in the womb by looking at their facial expressions.

A study led by Durham University’s Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab, U.K, took 4D ultrasound scans of 100 pregnant women to see how their unborn babies responded after being exposed to flavours from foods eaten by their mothers. Researchers looked at how the fetuses reacted to either carrot or kale flavours just a short time after the flavours had been ingested by the mothers.

Foetuses exposed to carrot showed more “laughter-face” responses while those exposed to kale showed more “cry-face” responses, says a release. Their findings could further our understanding of the development of human taste and smell receptors.

The researchers also believe that what pregnant women eat might influence babies’ taste preferences after birth and potentially have implications for establishing healthy eating habits.

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