According to a study, babies already react positively or negatively to certain foods in the womb.

For example, fetuses would have shown a more “smiling face” after their mothers ate carrots, scientists at the University of Durham in north-east England report in the journal Psychological Science.

After enjoying cabbage aromas, on the other hand, the fetuses would have made a more “crying face”.

It was well known that babies dislike cabbage.

But now, for the first time, evidence has been found that even fetuses in the womb react differently to different smells and tastes, the study says.

The fetuses probably develop taste when they inhale and swallow amniotic fluid in the womb.

The researchers used 4D ultrasound to record the facial expressions of their babies in 100 women at 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

The mothers were given a capsule containing around 400 milligrams of carrot or 400 milligrams of cabbage powder about 20 minutes before the scan and did not eat anything flavored for an hour beforehand.

Fetal facial responses were compared to those of a control group that received neither carrots nor cabbage.

Result: Even small amounts flavored with carrots or cabbage were enough to trigger a reaction.

Co-author Jackie Blissett of Aston University in Birmingham said repeated prenatal taste exposure could lead to food preferences after birth.

"In other words, exposing the fetus to less 'popular' flavors, like cabbage, could mean becoming accustomed to those flavors in utero."