Flavor Sensing in Utero and Emerging Discriminative Behaviors in the Human Fetus


The diet of pregnant women exposes fetuses to a variety of flavors consisting of compound sensations involving smell, taste, and chemesthesis. The effects of such prenatal flavor exposure on chemosensory development have so far been measured only postnatally in human infants. Here, we report the first direct evidence of human fetal responsiveness to flavors transferred via maternal consumption of a single-dose capsule by measuring frame-by-frame fetal facial movements. Pregnant women and their fetuses based in the northeast of England were involved in this study from 32 to 36 weeks’ gestation. Fetuses exposed to carrot flavor ( n = 35) showed “lip-corner puller” and “laughter-face gestalt” more frequently, whereas fetuses exposed to kale flavor ( n = 34) showed more “upper-lip raiser,” “lower-lip depressor,” “lip stretch,” “lip presser,” and “cry-face gestalt” in comparison with the carrot group and a control group not exposed to any flavors ( n = 30). The complexity of facial gestalts increased from 32 to 36 weeks in the kale condition, but not in the carrot condition. Findings of this study have important implications for understanding the earliest evidence for fetal abilities to sense and discriminate different flavors.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976221105460
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)
Uncontrolled Keywords: 4D ultrasonography,facial movement,flavor,gustation,human fetus,olfaction,perception,Psychology(all)
Publication ISSN: 1467-9280
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 16:02
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2022 08:34
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 567976221105460 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-10
Published Online Date: 2022-09-21
Accepted Date: 2022-05-16
Authors: Ustun, Beyza
Reissland, Nadja
Covey, Judith
Schaal, Benoist
Blissett, Jacqueline (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-0275-6413)


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