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