Study Shows Pregnant Mother's Diet Impacts Infant's Sense of Smell

01 Dec 2010 --- Researchers studying mice found that the pups' sense of smell is changed by what their mothers eat, teaching them to like the flavors in her diet. At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli.

01 Dec 2010 --- A major new study shows that a pregnant mother's diet not only sensitizes the fetus to those smells and flavors, but physically changes the brain directly impacting what the infant eats and drinks in the future.

"This highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet and refraining from drinking alcohol during pregnancy and nursing," said Josephine Todrank, PhD, who conducted the two-year study while a visiting scientist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "If the mother drinks alcohol, her child may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing fetus "expects" that whatever comes from the mother must be safe. If she eats healthy food, the child will prefer healthy food."

Researchers studying mice found that the pups' sense of smell is changed by what their mothers eat, teaching them to like the flavors in her diet. At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odors in the amniotic fluid affect how this system develops.

"This is the first study to address the changes in the brain that occur upon steady exposure to flavors in utero and early in postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from the mother," said Diego Restrepo, PhD, co-director of the Center for NeuroScience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and sponsor of the study. "During these periods the pup is exposed to flavors found in the food the mom is eating."

The research, he said, could have important public health implications.

"Many diseases plaguing society involve excess consumption or avoidance of certain kinds of foods," said Restrepo, a professor of cell and developmental biology. "Understanding the factors that determine choice and ingestion, particularly the early factors, is important in designing strategies to enhance the health of the infant, child, and adult."

In her study, Todrank, now a research fellow with collaborator Giora Heth, PhD, at the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa, Israel, fed one group of pregnant and nursing mice a bland diet and another a flavored diet. At weaning age, the pups from mothers on the flavored diet had significantly larger glomeruli than those on the bland diet. They also preferred the same flavor their mother ate, while the other pups had no preference.

"Exposure to odor or flavor in the womb elicits the preference but also shapes the brain development," said Todrank, whose work was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and was published Dec. 1, 2010 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a major biological research journal.

"From the fetus' point of view, whatever is in the womb is considered "good". If your mother ate it and survived to give birth to you then it was probably safe," she said. "This is a good strategy for a mouse that is foraging for food. It treats those same foods as safe."

Due to the similarities in mammalian development, she said, there is no reason to think that experiments would produce different results in humans.

"What an expectant mother chooses to eat and drink has long-term effects – for better or worse – on her child's sensory anatomy as well his or her odor memory and food preferences in the future," Todrank said. "It is not yet clear how long these changes and preferences last, but we are currently investigating that question."
 

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Color of Sweetener Packet May Determine Sweetness Perception

24 Jan 2017 --- The packet color of nonnutritive sweeteners may impact the sweetness perception and overall liking of the product, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science.

Health & Nutrition News

Low FODMAP Drink Powder Wins “Super Food 2017" Award

11 Jan 2017 --- The “Finnish Health Product Retailers Association”, an organization that celebrates quality products with health-boosting properties each year, and has awarded Sunwic with the “Super Food 2017” award. The drink powder is produced by Valioravinto, and consists of 100% Sunfiber — a soluble fiber from Taiyo.

Health & Nutrition News

KEY INTERVIEW: Almonds, Fast Becoming the Top Clean Label and Nutritious Snack Solution

09 Jan 17 --- With new research published just last month from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) showing that both roasted and unroasted almonds provide fewer calories than once previously thought, there is no better time for the Almond Board of California to discuss both the study, and what the future holds for the nutritious nut.

NutritionInsight caught up with both Dariela Roffe-Rackind, Director for Europe for the Almond Board of California and Richard Waycott, President & CEO of the Almond Board of California, about consumer awareness, global penetration and the science behind the nutritional benefits of almonds.

Health & Nutrition News

FMC Launches Aquateric N100 Enteric Coating

20 Dec 2016 --- FMC Corporation's Health and Nutrition business has launched its Aquateric N100 enteric coating solution, a new alginate-based product that simplifies processing for manufacturers and brand owners, and improves the sensory experience for consumers.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/Study-Shows-Pregnant-Mothers-Diet-Impacts-Infants-Sense-of-Smell.html