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J Nutr. 2015 Jun;145(6):1271-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.203976. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Impacts of in utero and early infant taste experiences on later taste acceptance: a systematic review.

Author information

1
Institutes for Social Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and ina.nehring@med.uni-muenchen.de.
2
Institutes for Social Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and.
3
Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Dietary behavior exerts a critical influence on health and is the outcome of a broad range of interacting factors, including food and taste acceptance. These may be programmed in utero and during early infancy.

OBJECTIVE:

We examined the hypothesis that fetuses and infants exposed to sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, or specific tastes show greater acceptance of that same taste later in life.

METHODS:

We conducted a systematic review of the literature, using comprehensive searches and following established procedures for screening, data extraction, and quality appraisal. We used harvest plots to synthesize the evidence graphically.

RESULTS:

Twenty studies comprising 38 subgroups that differed by taste, age, medium, and duration of exposure were included. Exposure to bitter and specific tastes increased the acceptance of these tastes. Studies on sweet and salty tastes showed equivocal results. Studies on sour tastes were sparse.

CONCLUSION:

Our systematic review clearly shows programming of the acceptance of bitter and specific tastes. For other tastes the results were either equivocal or confined to a few number of studies that precluded us from drawing conclusions. Further research should examine the association of salty and sour taste exposures on later preferences of these tastes. Long-term studies and randomized clinical trials on each type of taste are needed.

KEYWORDS:

bitter; children; feeding; programming; salty; sour; sweet; taste

PMID:
25878207
DOI:
10.3945/jn.114.203976
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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