Babies in the womb are big fans of carrots, but not so much leafy greens — and it shows on their faces, scientists said in a new study published Thursday.

Researchers at Durham University in northeast England said the findings are the first direct evidence that babies respond differently to different smells and tastes even before birth.

A team of scientists studied 4D ultrasound scans of 100 pregnant women and found that babies who were exposed to the carrot flavor exhibited a “laughter” response.

In contrast, those exposed to cabbage flavorings showed more “crying” responses.

Lead PhD student Beiza Ustun said: “A number of studies have shown that babies sense taste and smell in the womb, but they are based on findings after birth, whereas our study is the first to look at these responses before birth.

“As a result, we believe that repeated exposure to flavorings before birth may help determine food preferences after birth, which may be important when thinking about healthy eating messaging and the potential to avoid ‘eating fussiness’ at weaning.”

Humans experience taste through a combination of taste and smell.

It is believed that this can happen in the fetus through inhalation and ingestion of amniotic fluid in the womb.

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A colorful image of a modern ultrasound monitor. Ultrasound apparatus. High-tech medical equipment. Ultrasound imaging or sonography in medicine. The womb of a woman during pregnancy. Photo: iStock

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, involved scientists from the Durham Fetal and Newborn Research Laboratory and Aston University in Birmingham, central England.

A team from the National Center for Scientific Research in Burgundy, France was also involved.

The teams believe that the obtained results can deepen the understanding of the development of taste and smell receptors in humans, as well as perception and memory.

Study co-author Professor Jackie Blissett, of Aston University, said: “It is arguable that repeated prenatal taste exposure may lead to a preference for those flavors that are present postnatally.

“In other words, exposing the fetus to less ‘favorite’ tastes, such as cabbage, may mean that they become accustomed to those tastes in utero.

“The next step will be to examine whether fetuses show less ‘negative’ responses to these flavors over time, leading to greater acceptance of these flavors when babies first try them outside the womb.”

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