Mothers who eat a varied diet during pregnancy could be less likely to have children who are fussy eaters, French scientists have claimed.

Researchers from the Bourgogne University, Dijon, looked at more than a decade's worth of studies, and found a link between tastes babies like and foods their mother ate during pregnancy. They also found a link between smells and tastes a baby is exposed to during the first few weeks of life and foods it grows to like.

Dr Benoist Schaal, who led the research, used a range of different tests to see whether babies recognised scents and tastes they had experienced in the womb. In one, for example, some mothers were given aniseed sweets in the last few days of pregnancy while others stuck to their normal diet. They found that babies who had tasted aniseed in the womb turned their heads towards the smell when an aniseed flavoured sweet was put near them.

Dr Schaal said such results indicate a varied diet during pregnancy may stop children from becoming picky eaters as they get older.

Former midwife Clare Byam-Cook told the Daily Mail: "It seems to be the case that a mother who eats a lot of curries in her pregnancy can also eat lots when she is breastfeeding, because the baby has got used to it.

"Mothers who don't eat lots of curries are normally told that spicy foods might upset the baby when they are breastfeeding."

Posted by Robert Mair on 22/2/2012