Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First flavors form a lasting impression

05.04.2004


Infant feeding experiences help shape flavor preferences later in life



Ever wonder why your child loves to eat macaroni and cheese while her best friend likes nothing better than a steaming bowl of cauliflower curry? The answer may lie in part with what they were fed as young infants. Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia report that feeding experiences during the first seven months of life may contribute to food likes and dislikes.

"This research may help us to understand early factors involved in human food preferences and diet choice, an area with many important health implications. We can explore these early influences systematically by studying infants who are breastfeeding, as well as babies whose parents have decided to formula-feed," explains study lead author Julie Mennella, PhD.


As part of a research program aimed at understanding the underlying basis for individual food differences, the Monell researchers compared flavor preferences of bottle-fed infants raised on two different types of commercially-available infant formula. One was a standard milk-based formula. The second formula is called a protein hydrolysate because the proteins are ’pre-digested’ to help babies absorb them more easily. The two formulas are similar nutritionally but differ markedly with regard to flavor: milk-based formulas are described as bland and cereal-like, while hydrolysates taste exceedingly unpleasant to most adults, bitter and sour with a horrible after-taste.

In the study, reported in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics, 53 babies were fed one of the two infant formulas for seven months. Starting at about two weeks of age, one group was fed only the standard formula while a second group received only the hydrolysate formula. Two additional groups combined three months of hydrolysate feeding, introduced at different times, with four months of standard formula. Because infants accept hydrolysate formulas readily during the first four months of life, all babies were content regardless of the formula they were fed.

At the end of the exposure period, all infants were given the chance to feed both types of formula. The babies’ behavior and the amount they fed depended on which formula they had fed during the previous seven months. Seven-month-old babies who had never fed the hydrolysate formula strongly rejected it. In contrast, infants accustomed to the formula appeared relaxed and happy while feeding, and drank more of the hydrolysate formula.

Mennella observes, "It is often difficult for parents to feed these formulas to their babies because they think it tastes bad. These findings reveal if the baby feeds this formula by three months of age, the baby learns to like its taste."

These early influences persist to shape flavor preferences during childhood – and perhaps longer. In earlier studies from Mennella’s laboratory, 4-to 5-year-old children fed hydrolysates during infancy were more accepting of sour taste and aroma – sensory qualities associated with these formulas – than children fed other formulas.

The current findings complement Mennella and co-author Beauchamp’s long-term research program on how breastfeeding infants learn about flavors. Because breast milk transmits flavors of mothers’ diets to nursing babies, breast-fed babies are exposed to flavor experiences during the nursing period. The Monell researchers suggest that this natural early flavor exposure serves to establish flavors of the mother’s diet – which will subsequently be fed to the growing child – as acceptable and preferred.

Mennella comments on some of the implications, "Because we know that flavor preferences established early in life track into later childhood, eating habits in the growing child may begin to be established long before the introduction of solid food."


The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, PA. Scientists at the Monell Center conduct research devoted to understanding the senses of taste, smell, and chemical irritation: how they function and how they affect our lives, from before birth through old age. The Center’s approach is multidisciplinary. Scientists from a variety of backgrounds collaborate to address topic areas in sensation and perception, neuroscience and molecular biology, environmental and occupational health, nutrition and appetite, health and well-being, and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit the Center’s web site at www.monell.org or email inquiries to media@monell.org.

Citation: Julie A. Mennella, Cara E. Griffin, and Gary K. Beauchamp. Flavor Programming During Infancy. Pediatrics Apr 1, 2004; 113 (4)

Funding: NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

For additional information contact: Julie Mennella, PhD, Monell Chemical Senses Center, mennella@monell.org, 215.898.9230

Journal copies may be obtained from: American Academy of Pediatrics, 847.434.7084

Julie Mennella | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.monell.org

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>