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Amazing pictures show babies in womb smiling and pulling sad faces in reaction to different food tastes

First-time photographs of babies in the womb reacting to different foods their mothers have eaten have been released.

he foetuses were captured grimacing when they tasted and smelled greens but smiling for carrots.

Scientists from Durham University recorded the evidence that babies react differently to various smells and tastes while in the womb by recording their facial expressions.

The experts took 4D ultrasound scans of 100 pregnant women to study how their unborn babies responded after being exposed to flavours from foods eaten by their mothers.

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Durham University handout image of a 4D scan of a foetus showing a neutral face (top) and the same foetus showing a ‘cry-face’ reaction (bottom), after being exposed to the kale flavour. Photos: PA

They looked at how the foetuses reacted to either carrot or kale flavours a short time after the flavours had been ingested by the mothers.

Foetuses exposed to carrot showed more “laughter-face” responses while those exposed to kale showed more “cry-face” responses.

Their findings could further the understanding of how human taste and smell receptors develop, the university’s Foetal and Neonatal Research Lab said.

They also believe what mothers eat during pregnancy could influence babies’ taste preferences after birth, and might have implications for establishing healthy eating habits.

It is thought foetuses experience flavour by inhaling and swallowing amniotic fluid in the womb.

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Durham University image of a 4D scan of a foetus showing a neutral face (top) and the same foetus showing a laughter-face reaction (bottom), after being exposed to the carrot flavour. Photo: Durham University/PA

Postgraduate Beyza Ustun, who led the research, said: “A number of studies have suggested that babies can taste and smell in the womb, but they are based on post-birth outcomes while our study is the first to see these reactions prior to birth.

“As a result, we think that this repeated exposure to flavours before birth could help to establish food preferences post birth, which could be important when thinking about messaging around healthy eating.

“It was really amazing to see unborn babies’ reaction to kale or carrot flavours during the scans and share those moments with their parents.”

Mothers were scanned at the 32nd and 36th week of their pregnancies to see foetal facial reactions to the kale and carrot flavours.

Mothers were given a single capsule containing approximately 400mg of carrot or 400mg kale powder around 20 minutes before each scan and did not consumer anything with a flavour for an hour before.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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