CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A first-of-its-kind study published in Psychological Science using 4D ultrasound scans found evidence to suggest that unborn babies react to taste and smell in the womb.
There were nearly 70 pregnant women included in the study, all between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation. Researchers from the UK took the 4D ultrasound scans 20 minutes after the mother ingested vegetable capsules with either kale or carrot and one mouthful of water.
Researchers monitored the fetuses’ faces for different reactions to the food and compared them to baseline. Different facial movements were categorized into the “laughter-face gestalt” or the “cry-face gestalt”. The study found that fetuses exposed to the kale flavor were much more likely to make a crying face than a laughing face, and vice versa for fetuses exposed to the carrot flavor.
The study concluded that a single exposure to a flavor activates fetal facial movements, as well as a combination of facial movements to form a laughing or crying face that is specific to flavor input.
“Results of this study have important implications for our understanding of the development of human oral and nasal chemoreception, including the nature and timing of behavioral reactions to prenatal flavor exposure, fetal engagement of memory for flavors, and the potential role played by prenatal to postnatal continuity in perception and reactivity to the chemical environment,” researchers wrote.
The study was published Wednesday.
Video Credit: Beyza Ustun, Nadja Reissland, Judith Covey, Benoist Schaal, and Jacqueline Blissett via Storyful