Monday 23 October 2017

Babies' sense of smell physically shaped by mothers' meals

Stephen Adams

A baby's smelling system is physically shaped by what his or her mother eats and drinks during pregnancy, scientists have found.

It is well established that what an expectant mother consumes will affect what her child will like.

But now a study on mice by biologists at Colorado University has found why this is the case, and how it affects the physical development of the smelling system.

Exposure to certain odours triggers certain glomeruli - spherical structures in the olfactory bulb that relay smell messages from the nasal cavity to the brain - to grow rather than others.

Among the most powerful odours that a foetus will experience in the womb is that of its own mother.

The development process is critical because it enables the young to smell their own mothers when they are born, said Dr Josephine Todrank, whose research is published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

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