According to this NPR news site, research claims that aside from nourishing your baby in the womb, what you eat while pregnant may shape food preferences later on in life.
The amniotic food surrounding the baby is flavoured by whatever the mother has eaten. A developing baby swigs several mouthfuls of this fluid every day.
Julie Mennella, who studies infant taste at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says there aren’t many flavours that do not show up in utero. Her work has been published in the Journal Pediatrics.
Researchers gave women either garlic or sugar capsules before taking an amniotic fluid sample - and then asked a panel to smell the samples.
The panel members were easily able to pick the samples from the women who ate garlic. The sense of taste is 90-percent smell, so just from the odour, we know babies could taste it.
Mennella got the idea from farmers, who did research on how the diet of the dairy cow influenced the taste of the milk. Cows that feed on wild garlic and onion, produce milk with noticeably different flavours to those who live in crowded barns.
It was found that memories of these flavours in amniotic fluid and breast milk are formed before birth. This could result in a preference or dislike for certain foods or odours for a lifetime.
This was tested on humans. Pregnant women were divided into three groups. One group drank carrot juice every day during their pregnancy, another during breastfeeding and a third avoided carrots entirely. When the children began eating solid food, analysts fed them cereal made either with water, or carrot juice and recorded their reactions.
The babies who had been exposed to carrot in amniotic fluid or mother's milk ate more of the carrot-flavoured cereal, and made fewer negative faces while eating.
This makes evolutionary sense. Mothers feed their children what they eat themselves; it’s nature's way of introducing babies to foods and flavours they’re likely to be confronted with in their family and culture.
Consider how children in other cultures eat foods that are spicy, bitter, or have pungent flavours. Asian children grow up eating foods most Western kids would never touch.
Would you eat more veggies while pregnant in the hope that your baby will learn to love greens?