Bumpology: What does an amniotic cocktail taste like?
来源：未知 作者：蔺受 时间：2019-03-01 02:18:14
By Linda Geddes Days to go: 97 Waist size: 89 centimetres (35 inches) Additional note: Back to craving cakes this week. Perhaps baby is developing a sweet tooth. Tucking into a particularly spicy curry the other night, I started wondering if my fetus was sharing in any of these wonderful taste sensations. Fetal taste buds are said to develop just 13 to 15 weeks into pregnancy, and we’re also told that babies can distinguish between different flavours in breast milk. But do flavours also get into the amniotic fluid? According to Julie Mennella, a taste researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they can. “If it gets into the blood supply, it will get into the amniotic fluid and the breast milk,” she says. Volatile compounds, such as the sulphurous compounds that give garlic its taste, are able to get into the blood and thence into the amniotic fluid. Each day in the third trimester of pregnancy, fetuses breathe and swallow around a litre of amniotic fluid, which passes over olfactory receptors in the nose and the taste receptors in the mouth. Several studies have shown that babies whose mothers consumed garlic or anise during pregnancy are drawn towards those smells in the first few days after birth. “If you take amniotic fluid from mothers who have eaten a really garlicy meal, you can smell it,” Mennella says, although she adds that no one to her knowledge has investigated whether capsaicin – the compound that puts the kick in chillis – can also get into the amniotic fluid. The memories of these tastes also seem to persist for some time after birth, and may shape babies’ preferences for foods in later life. In 2001, Mennella found that the infants of mothers who drank 300 millilitres of carrot juice four times a week for three weeks during the last trimester of pregnancy, or during the first two months of breastfeeding, showed a greater enjoyment of cereals prepared with carrot juice once they were weaned (Pediatrics, vol 107, p e88). More recently, Mennella says she has found that infants whose mothers ate a lot of fruit during pregnancy are more accepting of fruit when it is introduced to them during weaning. “The baby is learning what foods mom likes,” she says. “I think it’s the first way they learn what foods are safe and also what foods are available.” Pregnancy and lactation may therefore be ideal times to set babies a good example by eating a healthy and varied diet, she suggests. It may also be possible to set a bad example, however, as Paula Abate of the Mercedes and Martín Ferreyra Institute of Medical Investigation in Córdoba, Argentina, and her colleagues recently showed. They found that infants whose mothers consumed at least 22.1 grams of alcohol per week during pregnancy – that’s just under 3 units (equivalent to two small glasses of wine) – exhibited more smiling, suckling and licking expressions in response to the smell of alcohol than those whose mothers drank infrequently or abstained during pregnancy (Experimental Biology and Medicine, DOI: 10.3181/0703-mr-69). None of these infants showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome, however. All this raises the question of whether preferences learned in utero extend into the teens or adulthood. Could my mother’s wine consumption during pregnancy (she admits that she had the odd glass with dinner) explain my penchant for viognier, for example? Studies in rats suggest it might. In a slightly bizarre experiment, adolescent rats whose mothers had been given alcohol during pregnancy showed a greater interest in intoxicated partners than those whose mothers hadn’t consumed alcohol, and also preferred its smell. Recent evidence has also suggested that the children of alcoholics are more likely to battle with alcohol problems themselves. Becoming accustomed to the taste during late pregnancy might be one mechanism through which this happens, says Abate. “Prenatal alcohol exposure strongly predicts later drinking patterns and alcohol-related drinking problems,” she says. It is also too early to know just how much a mother needs to drink for the taste to reach her baby, but personally, I’m not going to let this stop me from having the odd glass of wine. I also can’t stop wondering what these amniotic cocktails taste like. Read previous Bumpology columns: My fetus is smarter than an earthworm, Ultrasound reveals breastfeeding mechanics, Boxing clever with the kung-fu fetus, Can old wives’ tales tell me my baby’s sex?, Active fetus, boisterous child? Uh-oh, Why do I loathe lettuce?, How does stress affect my fetus?. More on these topics: