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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012, Article ID 657379, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Intrauterine Growth Restriction and the Fetal Programming of the Hedonic Response to Sweet Taste in Newborn Infants

1Núcleo de Estudos da Saúde da Criança e do Adolescente, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, 90035-903 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
2School of Nursing, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada 43A 2A7
3Departamento de Pediatria e Puericultura, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, Largo Eduardo Zaccaro Faraco, 90035-903 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 8 March 2012; Revised 4 June 2012; Accepted 5 June 2012

Academic Editor: Chantal Lau

Copyright © 2012 Caroline Ayres et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Intrauterine growth restriction is associated with increased risk for adult metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, which seems to be related to altered food preferences in these individuals later in life. In this study, we sought to understand whether intrauterine growth leads to fetal programming of the hedonic responses to sweet. Sixteen 1-day-old preterm infants received 24% sucrose solution or water and the taste reactivity was filmed and analyzed. Spearman correlation demonstrated a positive correlation between fetal growth and the hedonic response to the sweet solution in the first 15 seconds after the offer ( , ), without correlation when the solution given is water ( , ). In fact, the more intense the intrauterine growth restriction, the lower the frequency of the hedonic response observed. IUGR is strongly correlated with the hedonic response to a sweet solution in the first day of life in preterm infants. This is the first evidence in humans to demonstrate that the hedonic response to sweet taste is programmed very early during the fetal life by the degree of intrauterine growth. The altered hedonic response at birth and subsequent differential food preference may contribute to the increased risk of obesity and related disorders in adulthood in intrauterine growth-restricted individuals.