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Newborns make connections to smell.


Newborns who smell a certain scent while breast-feeding prefer the same odor more than a year later, explains a report led by the European Center of Taste Sciences.

Similar to other mammals, newborn human babies learn scents associated with breast-feeding. Formed strongly during a baby's first week, these types of odor memories can influence behavior and become reactivated up to toddlerhood, suggests a team led by Benoist Schaal.

Capitalizing on a practice in a section of France, Dr. Schaal recommended that nursing mothers apply chamomile balm to their breasts in order to prevent nipple soreness. The balm was offered to breast-feeding mothers in a French maternity ward. Of the 37 mothers who agreed to participate in the study, 20 women used the balm, applying it from eight to 120 days during nursing.

After seven months of breast-feeding, the babies of the mothers received three teething rings, one at a time. Two of the rings had a different scent applied to it: chamomile and violet. The third ring was unscented. Of the three teething rings, the children whose mothers had used the chamomile balm spent considerably more time holding and mouthing the chamomile ring than the other two rings. Children who did not breast-feed from a mother who used the balm showed no preference to either of the scented rings.

At 21 months of age, the children who preferred the chamomile scent had a preference to playing with toys scented with chamomile, whereas children who were not exposed during breast-feeding showed no preference to the scented. In addition, the children showed signs of discomfort when swabs scented with chamomile were placed under their noses.

(Source: Developmental Science, January 4, 2010.)

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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