Budding Tastes: Higher blood pressure in newborns links to salt preference

11:06am, August 15, 2002

Babies who tolerate a salty flavor have higher blood pressure on average than their less tolerant counterparts do, a new study shows.

During the 30-month experiment, scientists measured blood pressures of 283 newborns at a Providence, R.I., hospital. The researchers also tested each baby's taste preferences using a special nipple that delivers tiny drops of fluids and then records the intensity and frequency of a baby's sucking. Each newborn received several rounds of drops of sweet liquids, salt-flavored ones, and plain water. Researchers conducted the taste tests 3 hours after a feeding.

All the babies showed energetic sucking responses to the sugar-flavored fluid and slightly less enthusiasm for plain water. In contrast, most showed an aversion to the taste of salt; they sucked less when given salt-flavored fluids rather than sweet liquids or plain water. Some of the babies, however, were less put off by the salt flavor than others were.

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