Study Finds That Unborn Babies Grimace When Their Mothers Ingest Kale

The Taste of Kale Makes Unborn Babies Grimace

Left: Photo: Prof. Jackie Blissett
Right: Photo: wjarek/Depositphotos

Kale is well known for its numerous nutritional benefits. But for some people, the taste can be difficult to stomach. It turns out that adult humans aren't the only ones who think so. A study conducted at Durham University in England found that unborn babies grimaced when their mothers ingested this leafy vegetable.

“A number of 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 prior to birth,” Beyza Ustun, postgraduate researcher in the Fetal and Neonatal Research Lab, Department of Psychology, Durham University, says. The team of scientists took 4D ultrasound scans of 100 pregnant women to analyze how the unborn babies responded to different foods eaten by their mothers.

After the pregnant women ate carrots, the fetuses appeared to respond with delighted faces that almost resemble laughter. In contrast, fetuses look as though they are grimacing in disgust when their mothers munched on kale. It is believed that fetuses are able to experience these flavors by inhaling and swallowing the amniotic fluid in the womb. “It was really amazing to see unborn babies’ reaction to kale or carrot flavors during the scans and share those moments with their parents,” Uston continues. “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 results from this study were published in Psychological Science.

A new study finds that unborn babies grimace when their mothers ingest kale.

h/t: [The Guardian, Science Alert]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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