Breastfed bubs' expansive taste

Louise Hall Health Reporter
July 27, 2008

Some don't like it hot ... Larissa Menzies, of Newcastle, with son Lucas who, she says, reacts to certain foods in her diet. Brock Perks
Photo: Brockwell Perks


THE food a mother eats can flavour her breast milk in just minutes and can last for up to eight hours, new research shows.

And a variety of flavours in breast milk could make a baby more accepting of new flavours when they start to eat solid foods.

At the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, a group of 18 lactating women were asked to provide samples of breast milk before and after eating capsules containing various flavours, including banana, licorice, mint and caraway seed.

While concentrations of the caraway and licorice compounds peaked two hours after the mother ate them, the banana compound could be detected in the milk only during the first hour after consumption, New Scientist magazine reported last week.

Menthol was present at stable levels between two and eight hours after consumption and all four flavours had disappeared from the women's breast milk by the eight-hour mark, the study, originally published in the journal Physiology And Behaviour, found.

The study's author, Helene Hausner, said the flavours transferred to breast milk may influence the child's food preferences later in life.

She said infants and children were receptive to sensory and cognitive learning, and the behaviours established in this period were probably important for later preference and food behaviours.

She suggested mothers of bottle-fed infants change the brand of formula regularly.

Carey Wood, from the Australian Breastfeeding Association, said her children had an adventurous palate from age two, including a love of kalamata olives and hummus, which she attributes to her diet when breastfeeding.

Larissa Menzies, 33, said her four-month-old son, Lucas, responded to the different types of food she ate.

"If I have something spicy, he knows about it," she said.

A green chicken curry gave Lucas stomach pain and wind for hours.

"An experienced mum asked me what I had for dinner last night, and we put two and two together," she said.

Source: The Sun-Herald