From mother to child, food likes and dislikes: pregnant women sought for Rowett 'flavour' study

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute are looking for women who are between 16 and 32 weeks pregnant to taste a range of healthy flavoursome foods as part of a study looking at how babies develop their sense of taste.

Many parents struggle to get their children to eat a variety of nutritious foods, especially green vegetables. Scientists are now hoping to discover if their mother’s diet while they are still in the womb could play a role in encouraging healthier eating habits.

Babies are first exposed to diverse flavours when they swallow amniotic fluid in the womb, and then later through breast milk: as such the mother’s diet may play an important early role in determining the breadth of her baby’s taste preferences.

Dr Jacqueline Wallace, who is leading the study, said: “Eating lots of fruit and vegetables is the cornerstone of a healthy diet; however it is often a struggle getting children to eat their greens. Poor eating habits in childhood can continue into adolescence and adulthood and then may contribute to the development of obesity and other diseases.

“Eventually we want to test whether increasing the diversity of a mother’s diet in late pregnancy makes infants more likely to accept and enjoy a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in childhood.

“With this aim in mind we have developed a range of soups, sauces, snacks, muffins and smoothies that incorporate some of our most flavoursome vegetables and fruits. Before we can carry out our full study, we need help in establishing the general acceptance and taste profile of the different fruit and vegetable containing foods in a group of pregnant women.”

The study is looking for healthy pregnant women who are, or are soon to be, between 16 and 32 weeks pregnant. Volunteers should not have any food allergies or intolerances. Smokers, vegetarians and vegans are also unsuitable for the study.

Participants will visit the Rowett Institute three times and be asked to keep a food diary. During the visits, those taking part will be asked to taste the range of foods and rate them for various qualities including appearance, taste, flavour and texture.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information, visit or contact Jacqueline Wallace on 01224 438665 / or John Milne on 01224 438664 /

This study has received funding from the Scottish Government as part of the Strategic Research programme.