London: Be it junk or healthy food -- what you eat during pregnancy affects your child`s food preferences as it helps to form their sense of smell, so says a new study.
A research team from the University of Colorado said a pregnant mother`s diet sensitises her foetus to those particular smells and flavours and even shapes their brain development.
This makes the mother`s diet more attractive to the child when they are older, reports a daily.
Study author Josephine Todrank, now at the University of Haifa in Israel, said: "If the mother drinks alcohol, her child may be more attracted to alcohol because the developing foetus `expects` that whatever comes from the mother must be safe."
"If she eats healthy food, the child will prefer healthy food," added Todrank, according to the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Researchers studying mice found that the pups` sense of smell was changed by what their mothers ate, teaching them to like the flavours in her diet.
At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain`s olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odours in the amniotic fluid affect how this system develops.
Study sponsor Diego Restrepo, said: "This is the first study to address the changes in the brain that occur upon steady exposure to flavours in utero and early in postnatal life when the newborn is receiving milk from the mother."