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Pregnancy Taste Changes

June 3, 2014

Researchers are identifying molecular changes in taste receptors that occur during pregnancy.



Taste changes in pregnancy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Tea With Buzz flickr pickle

Some people crave pickles during pregnancy. (Tea With Buzz/Flickr)

Pregnant women sometimes experience strange changes in taste – like a burning desire for tacos or a sudden disgust for peanut butter. Ezen Choo, a molecular medical scientist at Cornell University, is researching how this happens.

EZEN CHOO (Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine*):
There’s been some suggestion that it’s due to the hormone changes, but no one’s ever looked at it on a taste bud level, so that’s kind of what we’re interested in.

Her team tracks hormone changes in pregnant mice, and relates them to changes in taste receptors that are sensitive to these hormones. Preliminary results suggest that hormonal changes in pregnancy may, in fact, alter the structure and function of a mother mouse’s taste buds. Choo says understanding this process might lead to new ways to help pregnant women manage their dietary choices, which research suggests can actually shape the taste preferences of their offspring. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

*The study was funded by the Cornell Food Science Department under the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in the lab of Dr. Robin Dando.