Taste: Like Mother Like Child

Ever wonder why you and mom like the same foods? Here's how you adopt your mother's cravings.

By Linda Formichelli, published on November 1, 2000 - last reviewed on December 16, 2008

Got a taste for spicy Mexican food? Chances are that your mother
does, too.

A study from Philadelphia's Monell Chemical Senses Center
(MCSC) suggests that children can adopt their mothers' food preferences
through the flavors in her breast milk and amniotic fluid. Study author
Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a MCSC behavioral scientist, assigned 46 pregnant
women to one of three groups. Women in the first group drank carrot juice
during the last trimester of pregnancy and water during lactation; the
second group did the opposite; and the third group drank only water

Later, Mennella observed the infants eating cereal prepared with
carrot juice one day and water another. She found that those infants who
were exposed to carrot flavoring ate an average of three times more
carrot-flavored cereal than did infants whose mothers drank only

Mennella suggests that mother's milk may act as a medium for early
flavor experiences, giving infants a taste of their culture even before
birth. "Infants learn what foods are safe by flavor cues in the amniotic
fluid and mother's milk," she said.