Here is a valid reason for moms-to-be to make conscious, intentional choices about what they put in their mouth during pregnancy.

A new study delving into the link between mother-child nutritional connections found that a pregnant woman's diet choices are detrimental in the eating preferences of her child after birth.

According to researchers, the odor of a mother's diet in pregnancy may mold her offspring to the same smells and flavors.

In addition, a mother's diet not only alters the fetus perception of smell, but also brings about significant changes in the development of the sensory part of his brain.

Lead author of the study, Dr Josephine Todrank from the University of Colorado stated,
"This highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet and refraining from drinking alcohol during pregnancy and nursing.

"If the mother drinks alcohol, her child may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing fetus 'expects' that whatever comes from the mother must be safe. If she eats healthy food, the child will prefer healthy food."
Study details

The researchers analyzed mice for a period of two years to determine how a mother's diet in pregnancy shapes a child's food preference after birth.

As a part of the study, the investigators fed one group of pregnant mice a bland diet while the other was administered a flavored diet.

The investigators discovered that what the pregnant mothers ate affected the olfactory glomeruli of the pups, a region in the brain which is responsible for processing the sense of smell.

The pups whose mothers were fed the flavored diet had much bigger glomeruli compared to those who were put on bland pregnancy diet.

Study sponsor Dr. Diego Restrepo stated,
"This is the first study to address the changes in the brain that occur upon steady exposure to flavors in utero and early in postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from the mother.'

"Many diseases plaguing society involve excess consumption or avoidance of certain kinds of foods.

"Understanding the factors that determine choice and ingestion, particularly the early factors, is important in designing strategies to enhance the health of the infant, child, and adult."
Implications of the study

Although the study was carried out on rodents, the researchers believe the same would hold true for human mother-infant interactions also.

According to experts, healthy eating habits should start during the fetal life of an individual.

Future mothers need to be aware that pregnancy is not the time to over-indulge on unhealthy food because it will trigger the desire to consume similar food in the infant and child.

Dr. Todrank stated,
"What an expectant mother chooses to eat and drink has long-term effects - for better or worse - on her child's sensory anatomy as well his or her odor memory and food preferences in the future.

"It is not yet clear how long these changes and preferences last, but we are currently investigating that question."
The details of the study appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.