Investigating New Sensory Methods Related to Taste Sensitivity, Preferences, and Diet of Mother-Infant Pairs and Their Relationship With Body Composition and Biomarkers: Protocol for an Explorative Study

Bianca Fuchs-Neuhold*, Wolfgang Staubmann, Marie Peterseil, Anna Rath, Natascha Schweighofer, Anika Kronberger, Monika Riederer, Moenie van der Kleyn, Jochen Martin, Marlies Hörmann-Wallner, Irmgard Waldner, Manuela Konrad, Anna Lena Aufschneiter, Barbara Siegmund, Andrea Berghold, Sandra Holasek, Elisabeth Pail

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Early experiences with different flavors play an important role in infant development, including food and taste acceptance. Flavors are already perceived in utero with the development of the taste and olfactory system and are passed on to the child through breast and bottle feeding. Therefore, the first 1000 days of life are considered a critical window for infant developmental programming. Objective: The objective of our study is to investigate, both in the prenatal and postnatal period, taste sensitivity, preferences, and dietary diversity of mother-infant pairs. The explorative study design will also report on the impact of these variables on body composition (BC) and biomarkers. In contrast to conventional methods, this study involves long-term follow-up data collection from mother-infant pairs; moreover, the integration of audiovisual tools for recording infants' expressions pertaining to taste stimuli is a novelty of this study. Considering these new methodological approaches, the study aims to assess taste-related data in conjunction with BC parameters like fat-free mass or fat mass, biomarkers, and nutritional intake in infants and children. Methods: Healthy pregnant women aged between 18 and 50 years (BMI≥18.5 kg/m 2 to ≤30 kg/m 2; <28 weeks of gestation) were recruited from January 2014 to October 2014. The explorative design implies 2 center visits during pregnancy (24-28 weeks of gestation and 32-34 weeks of gestation) and 2 center visits after delivery (6-8 weeks postpartum and 14-16 weeks postpartum) as well as follow-up visits at 1, 3-3.5, and 6 years after delivery. Data collection encompasses anthropometric and biochemical measurements as well as BC analyses with air displacement plethysmography, taste perception assessments, and multicomponent questionnaires on demographics, feeding practices, and nutritional and lifestyle behaviors. Audiovisual data from infants' reactions to sensory stimuli are collected and coded by trained staff using Baby Facial Action Coding and the Body Action Posture System. Birth outcomes and weight development are obtained from medical records, and additional qualitative data are gathered from 24 semistructured interviews. Results: Our cohort represents a homogenous group of healthy women with stringent exclusion criteria. A total of 54 women met the eligibility criteria, whereas 47 mother-child pairs completed data collection at 4 center visits during and after pregnancy. Follow-up phases, data analyses, and dissemination of the findings are scheduled for the end of 2023. The study was approved by the ethics committee of the Medical University of Graz (EC No 26-066 ex 13/14), and all participants provided informed consent. Conclusions: The results of this study could be useful for elucidating the connections between maternal and infant statuses regarding diet, taste, biomarkers, and prenatal and postnatal weight development. This study may also be relevant to the establishment of further diagnostic and interventional strategies targeting childhood obesity and early body fat development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37279
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • air displacement plethysmography
  • Baby Facial Actions Coding System
  • biomarkers
  • body composition
  • infant
  • mother
  • nutrition
  • parenting
  • pediatrics
  • postnatal
  • preferences
  • prenatal
  • taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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