Fetuses Inside The Womb 'Smiled' After Moms Ate Carrots and 'Scowled' After They Ate Kale, Study Suggests

Fetuses Inside The Womb 'Smiled' After Moms Ate Carrots and 'Scowled' After They Ate Kale, Study Suggests

The new study took data from around 100 pregnant women and their fetuses in England.

New research suggests that fetuses scowl in the womb after their mothers ate kale, but if they ate carrots, the fetuses responded with a "laughter-face" in the womb. The fascinating results came from a study that involved 100 pregnant women and their fetuses in England and looked into how fetuses respond to flavors in real time. The pregnant women were between the ages of 18 and 40 years and were between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant. They were also British and White.



According to TODAY, 35 women ate the equivalent of one medium carrot, and 34 women consumed the equivalent of 100 grams of chopped kale. The rest of the 30 women didn't eat either. After 20 minutes, researchers looked at ultrasound scans showing the fetus grimacing after being exposed to the kale flavor while they appeared to be laughing when exposed to the carrot flavor. The control group didn't show either result.  “We are the first ones who could actually show on an ultrasound scan the facial expressions in relation to the food which the mother has just consumed,” said Nadja Reissland, a co-author of the study and the head of the Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab at Durham University.

So what's causing these unique expressions? The grimaces “might be just the muscle movements which are reacting to a bitter flavor,” Reissland said. The other expression is in response to the "sweet" flavor of the carrot. Fetuses are known to make expressions and “if you look at it from 24 to 36 weeks’ gestation, their expressions become more and more complex,” Reissland said.



The study was published in the journal Psychological Science on Wednesday. "We decided to do this study to understand more about fetal abilities to taste and smell in the womb," lead researcher Beyza Ustun, a postgraduate researcher in the Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab at Durham University in the UK, told CNN. "The findings shows that fetuses in the last 3 months of pregnancy are mature enough to distinguish different tastes transferred from the maternal diet." The researchers are curious about extending the study to involve diverse groups of people from different ethnicities. "Further research needs to be conducted with pregnant women coming from different cultural backgrounds," Ustun said. "For example, I am coming from Turkey and in my culture, we love to eat bitter foods. It would be very interesting to see how Turkish babies would react to bitter taste." How fascinating is science!






Cover Image Source: Fetal and Neonatal Research lab, Durham University

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