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BJOG. 2005 Dec;112(12):1636-40.

Changes in gustatory function during the course of pregnancy and postpartum.

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  • 1Obstetric Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



To investigate changes in gustatory function during pregnancy and postpartum.


Prospective study.


Obstetric outpatient clinic, Zurich University Hospital.


Forty-four pregnant women, 46 controls.


A threshold-like measure of gustatory function was obtained for different concentrations of the four basic tastes using 'taste tablets'; subjects were also asked to rate the intensity and pleasantness/unpleasantness of suprathreshold taste solutions. Tests were performed in early pregnancy up to 14 weeks of gestational age, 8-12 weeks after the first and second examination and at least 6 weeks after birth. In parallel, controls were tested four times at intervals of 8-12 weeks.


Gustatory score (number of correctly identified tastes). Results Pregnant subjects exhibited a decreased gustatory function compared with non-pregnant controls, still being present after birth. These 'objective' changes were observed although pregnant women rated the intensity of suprathreshold taste stimuli not significantly different from controls. Pregnant women rated salty stimuli to be more pleasant during the second trimester while they rated the salty stimuli to be less pleasant during the first and third trimester, and after birth.


Pregnancy is accompanied by changes in gustatory function. Decreased gustatory sensitivity may allow pregnant and breastfeeding women to vary their diet in order to consume adequate electrolytes. The discrepancy between 'objective' and 'subjective' findings in gustatory function may relate to changes in central processing of gustatory information during pregnancy.

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