Chemosensory Development in the Fetus and Newborn

  title={Chemosensory Development in the Fetus and Newborn},
  author={Joy V. Browne},
  journal={Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews},
  • J. Browne
  • Published 1 December 2008
  • Medicine
  • Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews
The chemosensory system is one of the earliest emerging systems in fetal development. Smell is detected through the epithelium of the nasopharynx and taste through the tongue. Anatomical structures and innervation are already present in the first and early second trimesters. Early fetal experience with the mother's specific diet through the amniotic fluid provide for a continuous sensory environment from fetal to newborn life. Both term and preterm infants detect and discriminate odor and taste… 

Figures from this paper

Olfactory Stimulation in Premature Neonates: the Relevance of Early Experience

This paper discusses various studies that show the importance of early olfactory stimulation, an approach to improving o aroma stimulation and protection, and suggests examples of implementing these improvements in future research and design.

Preparing for Life After Birth: Introducing the Concepts of Intrauterine and Extrauterine Sensory Entrainment in Mammalian Young

  • D. Mellor
  • Psychology, Biology
    Animals : an open access journal from MDPI
  • 2019
An updated understanding of the development of sensory systems in the offspring of a wide range of terrestrial mammals, the prenatal exposure of those systems to salient stimuli, and the mechanisms by which that exposure can embed particular sensory capabilities that prepare newborns to respond appropriately to similar stimuli they may encounter after birth is presented.

Neonatal maltreatment and brain development

Olfactory, auditory, visual and tactile stimulation may serve as an important cue for brain development exerting specific effects on neuroendocrine systems regulating social and emotional behavior which may have consequences for subsequent generations of offspring.

Higher tactile sensitivity in preterm infants at term-equivalent age: A pilot study

Almost all preterm infants perceive this tactile stimulus, contrarily to the two other groups of infants, and this finding opens not only new insights in understanding development of tactile processing, but also new lines of thought about the particular sensory world of premature and early-term infants and hence about the potential impact of early care practices.

Infant Neurosensory Development: Considerations for Infant Child Care

A review of quality and standards in infant child care environments leads to a call for improvements to optimize child development.

Sampling, identification and sensory evaluation of odors of a newborn baby’s head and amniotic fluid

The data show that the artificial odor of a neonate head could be distinguished from that of amniotic fluid, and that the odors of artificial head odor mixtures could be correctly discriminated for neonates within an hour after birth and at 2 or 3 days of age.

Comparison of physiological and behavioral responses to fresh and thawed breastmilk in premature infants--a preliminary study.

Premature infants showed significant differences in heart rate when fed thawed, as opposed to fresh, breastmilk, and older premature infants demonstrate more stress when fed with thawed Breastmilk.

Using non-nutritive sucking to support feeding development for premature infants: A commentary on approaches and current practice.

Other factors and beneficial approaches to managing the introduction of infant feeding are considered, including the infant's toleration of enteral feeds pre oral trials, overall development and gestational age when introducing oral experiences, developing swallowing skills before sucking, physiological stability, health status, as well as the development and interpretation of infant oral readiness signs and early communication.

The human newborn’s umwelt: Unexplored pathways and perspectives

The goal of this review is to update current knowledge concerning newborns’ perceptual world and how ready they are to cope with an entirely different sensory environment following birth.



Orientation responses to biological odours in the human newborn. Initial pattern and postnatal plasticity.

Neonatal responsiveness to the odor of amniotic and lacteal fluids: a test of perinatal chemosensory continuity.

Results were interpreted as supporting the hypotheses that prenatal experience might influence the earliest odor preferences in the breast-feeding human neonate and that these preferences rapidly evolve according to postnatal experience.

Attractiveness of amniotic fluid odor: evidence of prenatal olfactory learning?

It is tentatively suggest that the observed attraction to AF odor may reflect fetal exposure to that substance (i.e. prenatal olfactory learning) and products that eliminate or mask such cues should be avoided during the perinatal period.

Unique salience of maternal breast odors for newborn infants

Olfaction and human neonatal behaviour: clinical implications

Olfactory recognition may be implicated in the early stages of the mother‐infant attachment process, when the newborns learn to recognize the own mother's unique odour signature–a process possibly facilitated by the high norepinephrine release and the arousal of the locus coeruleus at birth.

Olfactory Familiarization and Discrimination in Preterm and Full-Term Newborns

Infants' reactivity and discrimination to odors indicate preterm and full-term newborns' ability to be attuned to their olfactory environment.

Human foetuses learn odours from their pregnant mother's diet.

This study provides the first clear evidence that through their diet human mothers influence the hedonic polarity of their neonates' initial olfactory responses and has potential implications for the early mother-to-infant transmission of chemosensory information relative to food and addictive products.

Olfactory function in the human fetus: evidence from selective neonatal responsiveness to the odor of amniotic fluid.

The fAF or nfAF versus C tests showed that the highly selective neonatal response to fAF odor is consistent with the hypothesis that the human fetus can detect and store the unique chemosensory information available in the prenatal environment and that this information becomes coupled with positive control of behavior.

The effect of labor on olfactory exposure learning within the first postnatal hour.

Brief exposure immediately after birth is sufficient for the development of olfactory learning and heightened learning by neonates from births with contractions may reflect locus coeruleus and NE activation.

Olfaction in the fetal and premature infant: functional status and clinical implications.