In the past 20 years, our understanding of the flavour world of infants has expanded substantially – we now know that the fetus can detect flavours and odours from the second trimester and that throughout childhood and adolescence the flavour sensors continue to develop and contribute to sensitivity and preferences. In this presentation, Catherine Forestell defines what flavour perception is and explains the development of the sensory capabilities of the human infant and the impact of early flavour exposures on later food choices.
The chemical profile of the amniotic fluid overlaps with that of breastmilk, with both reflecting the dietary choices of the mother. The presentation covers research that demonstrates how infants can distinguish between different types of tastes soon after birth. The preference for sweet tastes was shown to be universal in studies across Europe, the Middle East and North and South America, suggesting that this preference is innate and not learned.