Morning sickness and salt intake, food cravings, and food aversions

Physiol Behav. 1999 Aug;67(2):181-7. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(99)00055-4.


Evidence for an association between early pregnancy sickness and offspring salt (NaCl) preference has been obtained from studying offspring as young adults and as infants. To determine whether the association between early pregnancy sickness and salt preference of offspring is secondary to familiar similarity in salt preference, the present study examined the self-reported salt intake and dietary cravings and aversions of pregnant women. Women who reported little or no vomiting (n = 108) were compared to women who reported moderate to severe vomiting (n = 21) during pregnancy. The women's self-reported salt use and reported cravings and aversions for common food were measured via survey for time periods prior to and during their current pregnancy. Women did not differ in reported salt use prior to pregnancy as a function of their pregnancy symptoms. Women reported more aversions during, than prior to, pregnancy (p < 0.05). Women with more severe vomiting reported a greater number of aversions (p < 0.05) both prior to and during pregnancy. There was a significant association between experiencing cravings and aversions prior to pregnancy and experiencing craving and aversions during pregnancy (p < 0.05). These findings do not provide evidence for an association between dietary levels of sodium and the likelihood of experiencing severe pregnancy symptoms. Therefore, these data do not support the suggestion that reported elevations in salt preference in offspring of women with moderate to severe vomiting during pregnancy are mediated by familial dietary practices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum / epidemiology*
  • Nausea / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / psychology
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Taste / physiology


  • Sodium, Dietary