Your Taste In Food Was Decided In The Womb

“Picky, picky, picky!” —Pat Paulsen

In A Nutshell

It isn’t surprising to hear that children are shaped by their parents. However, one study proved this to an unusual degree: The food eaten by your mother during pregnancy alters what your favorite foods will be in later life.

The Whole Bushel

Taking that cliche about growing up to be exactly like your parents to new and extremely disturbing heights, it turns out that your taste in food was probably influenced by what your mother ate while you were in the womb.

In the study that first observed this, women who were in the final trimester of pregnancy were asked to drink 300 ml (10 oz) of carrot juice for four days a week over a consecutive period of three weeks, and then repeat this during the first two months of breastfeeding. To provide groups to compare results against, another three groups were also created: One where the mothers drank no carrot juice whatsoever, one where the mothers drank carrot juice during pregnancy only, and one where the mothers only drank carrot juice during breastfeeding.

The results? The children of the mothers who drank carrot juice during pregnancy and breastfeeding were more willing to eat carrot-flavored cereal than the kids from the other groups. Indeed, the scientists found that they couldn’t get enough of the stuff: This single group of kids ate more than the other groups combined.

The reason that this happened is because, to put it simply, the food that the mom ate flavored both her breast milk and the amniotic fluid which the baby swam in during its stay in her womb. In the former case, the carrot juice simply tinged the milk with carroty goodness, which was then consumed by the child and giving it a fondness for carrots.

It was the exact same process with the amniotic fluid; the carrot juice consumed by the mothers flavored their amniotic fluid, which the babies then drank up as an integral component of the somewhat-disgusting miracle of life.

Show Me The Proof

Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants
NPR: Baby’s Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Damn nature, you scary!!

    • Hadeskabir

      It sounds reasonable to believe in it, but trust me, it’s bullshit.

      • Robert Downey

        Why? because your anecdotal evidence based on a population of 1? While this research was limited (small population, one flavour etc) to call it bullshit is ignorant. Sure it may not hold true for all people (not all people that smoke get cancer, does that mean smoking doesn’t cause cancer), or all food, the results stand and are not bullshit.

    • Blue

      But what of the reverse? The reason I point this out is that what study on the effects of nurture has ever been implemented to provide a differing opinion? By reading this one would get the assumption that taste and food is governed by what your mother ate while gestating and lactation which I would propose is a bit of a nonsense.

      As a direct example of this I did not taste garlic or capsicum until I was 17-18 years old and had left home as my mother hates garlic and peppers, she dislikes butter intensely and would not touch Indian, Italian or anything other than Chinese curry sauce. Now I am not saying this is insane as clearly Chinese curry sauce’s main ingredient is garlic, however I did not get to taste any of these things until almost into adulthood when friends introduced me to Indian cuisine and proper Chinese cuisines (or western versions of them anyway).

      I eat butter and all milk products and I enjoy various cuisines that I have tasted from all over the world, the smell of which puts my mother off and makes her sick if she tastes them.

      So by this reckoning then as she ate coal when I was gestating then I should be partial to the odd lump of anthracite, cant say I have ever had that urge or that I like the taste of coal.

      I think this is a deeply flawed study for various reasons, not least of which is control of the experiment and how do you ask a baby or a child if it really likes something if that is all it is forced to eat? What are the comparables to its diet to prove that it likes carrots more? How do you define this under scientific experiment.

      Its a bit of soft science nonsense I think with a very minor conclusion that could just be the mother nurturing her baby after birth, I doubt very much the baby exploded out of the womb like Bugs Bunny and headed for the nearest carrot patch.

  • lbatfish

    It would also explain why the people in some cultures like things like hot chilis or garlic more than other cultures.

    Or the one that I find #1 most difficult to understand liking, which is seal oil.

  • Hadeskabir

    I don’t believe this to be true. My mother hates cheese, yogurts, milk and pasta so she never ate it while she was pregnant of me. I love to eat those things and I don’t share my mother’s choice in food.

    • Mom424

      Having a predisposition to love the foods your mother ate during pregnancy doesn’t mean you won’t love anything else…. that said, the title is a little misleading. Your predisposition to Like Certain Foods was Created in the Womb doesn’t have the same ring to it…

      • Hadeskabir

        You’re right, I agree with your point. The title would correct is it was like that, but I guess it wouldn’t attract as many people into reading it.

      • Blue

        I agree to a certain extent with what you are saying here but I also dont think that this is quantifiable in any real way as it could just be the nurturing aspect of the mother. If she is feeding baby carrots then it is going to expect carrots and understand that this taste is good.

        Its the same thing as kids not having an instant dislike for faeces and worms and stuff like that, they are nurtured by their parents/guardians to have these reflexive notions by constant nurture, you know “dont eat the dog shit its uchy”.

        I said this above, unless baby comes shooting out of its birth canal like Bugs Bunny on steroids and heads for the nearest carrot patch then really it is not quantifiable in reality as it could just be the baby’s expectation of what mum says is good.

  • Errkism

    So that’s why Eggs Benedict is my favorite meal.

  • Deb K Knight

    That is wrong – I am raising my granddaughter and have since the moment of her birth – her mother my daughter hates most all foods a very picky eater and I love almost anything; as does my little one now twelve who has a very good palate. Anything thing from an apple to raw octopus!

  • yes.. I don’t believe this to be true. My mother hates cheese, yogurts, milk and pasta so she never ate it while she was pregnant of me. I love to eat those things and I don’t share my mother’s choice in food.please visit us :

    tarot card reading in delhi