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Study finds that kids are more likely to eat vegetables if their moms do -- while expecting

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pregnant women who enjoy a varied diet are less likely to give birth to fussy eaters. That's the finding of several studies examining foot and diet with expectant moms.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers have found babies are more accepting of foods their mothers regularly ate while expectant and breast-feeding. This indicates that they get a taste for novel foods before birth and through breast milk.

Children whose mothers regularly drank carrot juice ate twice as much carrot-flavored cereal when being weaned, one study found.

"The research clearly shows that if mothers eat a lot of fruit during lactation and pregnancy, then their child will be much more open to eating fruit during weaning. The same goes with vegetables," Researcher Dr. Julie Mennella from the Monell Center in Philadelphia says.

"Babies are already biologically hardwired to be attracted to foods containing sugar and salt, but may not be initially attracted to bitter foods such as green vegetables.

"They have to be exposed to fruit and vegetables if they are to learn to accept and like these flavors.

"The good news is that our research shows that babies and their palates can learn very early on about healthy foods. Even before a child eats their first mouthful of food, they are learning about flavor through the amniotic fluid in the womb, and later through their mother's milk."
 
According to Dr. Julie Mennella, "The message is, eat the healthy food that you enjoy and when the baby is old enough to start weaning they will already be familiar with those flavors."

Mennella tested 46 babies aged between six months and a year old for their liking of carrot-flavored cereal.

As discussed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference, Mennella said those children whose mothers drank carrot juice several times a week while in the last three-months of pregnancy or when breast-feeding consumed more than 80g of the cereal, compared with 44g if their parent did not drink the juice.

"It was the first time these babies ate solid food, and it shows how we are primed by our earliest exposures," Mennella said.

"The research shows that children are getting sensory information in the womb and through their mothers' milk."

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