The impact of flavour exposure in utero and during milk feeding on food acceptance at weaning and beyond

Appetite. 2011 Dec;57(3):808-11. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.317. Epub 2011 May 27.


An individual's experience of flavours contributes to their unique pattern of food preferences. Exposure to a specific flavour can increase familiarity and result in greater acceptance of this flavour over time. This paper describes the earliest occurrences of flavour exposure; first in utero, via amniotic fluid, and later through breast or formula milk. Evidence suggests these early experiences impact on later food preferences, but the extent to which specific flavour compounds from the mother's diet are transmitted during these pre- and early post-natal periods may vary within and between individuals. In contrast with findings with toddlers and older children, infants accept new flavours rapidly, with relatively few exposures required. Early exposure to flavour variety may improve long term dietary outcomes, highlighting the need to promote a varied diet during pregnancy and lactation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Taste
  • Weaning*