• According to the research, humans experience flavor through a combination of taste and smell.
• In fetuses, it is thought that this might happen through inhaling and swallowing the amniotic fluid in the womb.
Scientists have for the first time discovered that babies react differently to various smells and tastes while in the womb, by looking at their facial expressions.
They took 4D ultrasound scans of 100 pregnant women to see how their unborn babies responded after being exposed to flavors from foods eaten by their mothers.
The scanned mothers aged 18 to 40, at both 32 weeks and 36 weeks of pregnancy were offered kale and carrot flavours to ingest, the researchers looked at how the fetuses reacted and recorded the results.
Fetuses exposed to carrot showed more "laughter-face" responses while those exposed to kale showed more "cry-face" responses.
This findings, they say could further the understanding of the development of human taste and smell receptors.
In another study, researchers also believe that what pregnant women eat might influence babies' taste preferences after birth and potentially have implications for establishing healthy eating habits.
The study published in the journal Psychological Science was led by Durham University's Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab in the UK.
The science behind it.
According to the research, humans experience flavor through a combination of taste and smell.
In fetuses, it is thought that this might happen through inhaling and swallowing the amniotic fluid in the womb.
"Several studies have suggested that babies can taste and smell in the womb, but they are based on post-birth outcomes while our study is the first to see these reactions before birth,” lead researcher Beyza Ustun said.
"As a result, we think that this repeated exposure to flavors before birth could help to establish food preferences post-birth, which could be important when thinking about messaging around healthy eating and the potential for avoiding 'food-fussiness' when weaning.”
The researchers sid their findings might also help with the information given to mothers about the importance of taste and healthy diets during pregnancy.