Womb smells change baby’s brain

We all know that a mother’s diet impacts the health of the baby that she is carrying. Even more than this however, new research has found that the tastes and smells of what a mother eats will effect a baby’s food preferences after birth.

In the new study researchers fed one group of pregnant mice a bland diet while another group was fed a more full flavoured diet. When the pups came to be weaned it was found that those whose mothers had been on a flavoured diet showed a preference for the same flavours that their mothers had eaten while pregnant. By contrast, the pups from the bland food group showed particular preference.

The most interesting information was yet to come.

Images revealed that the pups whose mothers had been fed a flavoured diet had significant changes in a part of the brain called the olfactory glomeruli. This is a part of the brain that processes smells. The flavour group pups had significantly larger olfactory glomeruli than the bland group pups. This is because odour communicating chemicals in the amniotic fluid affect how the smell relates parts of the brain develop.

So aside from health effects a mother’s diet will impact food and smell preferences in her baby. The researchers point out that exposure to odour or flavour in the womb creates these preferences but also shapes brain development. Essentially, from the foetus’ viewpoint, whatever it is exposed to in the womb is safe and therefore “good”. When outside the womb these pre-exposed tastes and smells are what the baby will naturally prefer.

Sorry mum, it’s yet another burden to carry and yes, your kids can now blame you for their liking for avocado smothered with sour cream (or whatever else you craved during pregnancy).

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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