Changes in Taste Threshold, Perceived Intensity, Liking, and Preference in Pregnant Women: a Literature Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

  • Hugo Weenen
  • Olsen, Annemarie
  • Evangelia Nanou
  • Esmée Moreau
  • Smita Nambiar
  • Carel Vereijken
  • Leilani Muhardi

Introduction: Studies of changes in taste threshold, perceived intensity, liking, and preference during pregnancy were reviewed, because such changes have the potential to negatively impact nutrient intake in pregnant women. Methods: Medline and Web of Science were searched; eligibility was based on inclusion, exclusion, and quality criteria. Results: Fourteen articles were included: 5 reported taste thresholds, 8 taste intensity, and 13 liking/preferences. Articles addressed sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, not umami. Results of self-reported changes suggested that many women experienced some sort of alteration in taste during pregnancy. Studies with real stimuli demonstrated that the only consistent finding for taste thresholds was that pregnant women showed higher thresholds for bitterness in their first trimester. For taste intensity, no consistent differences between pregnant women and controls were observed. However, over the course of pregnancy, salty intensity seemed to decrease, the intensity of other tastes did not change. During pregnancy, higher saltiness was liked more and salty snacks were consumed more, particularly in the second and/or third trimester. Drinks with lower sweetness were preferred and intake of sweet snacks was highest in the second trimester. Preference for sour and bitter did not seem to be affected. Conclusion: Self-reports suggested that many women experienced some taste changes during pregnancy, while changes based on studies with real stimuli were limited. Implications: Many women experienced a higher threshold for bitter perception in the first trimester, a preference for sweet snacks in the second trimester, and higher saltiness appetite in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, which may have nutritional consequences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemosensory Perception
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Intensity, Liking, Preference, Pregnancy, Taste, Threshold

ID: 209833316