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The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Garlic-Flavored Milk on the Nursling's Behavior


ABSTRACT: The present study investigated whether prior consumption of garlic by nursing mothers modifies their infants' behaviors during breast-feeding when the mothers again consume garlic. Three groups of mother-infant dyads were studied. The groups differed in the type (placebo or garlic) or the timing (d 5–7 or 8–10) of capsule ingestion by the mothers and, consequently, in the amount and recency of exposure their infants had to garlic-flavored milk during an 11-d experimental period. Each mother-infant pair was observed during two 4-h test sessions. The first session occurred at the beginning of the experimental period, when the mothers ingested placebo capsules (d 4); the second occurred at the end of the experimental period, when they ingested garlic capsules (d 11). During test sessions, the infants fed on demand and were weighed before and after each breast-feeding to determine the amount of milk ingested, and their behaviors during breastfeeding were monitored by videotape. The results demonstrated an effect of prior experience with garlic in mother's milk. The infants who had no exposure to garlic volatiles in their mothers' milk during the experimental period spent significantly more time breast-feeding after their mothers ingested garlic capsules compared with those infants whose mothers repeatedly consumed garlic during the experimental period. Moreover, the former group of infants spent significantly more time attached to their mothers' breasts during the 4-h test session in which their mothers ingested the garlic compared with the session in which she ingested the placebo. In contrast, the infants of mothers who consumed garlic capsules during the experimental period showed no response to the mothers' ingestion of garlic at the end of the experimental period (i.e. the time spent breast-feeding was equivalent to that observed during the session in which their mothers ingested the placebo capsules). Neither the number of times the infants fed nor the amount of milk they consumed was significantly affected by maternal garlic ingestion.

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Correspondence to Julie A Mennella.

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Mennella, J., Beauchamp, G. The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Garlic-Flavored Milk on the Nursling's Behavior. Pediatr Res 34, 805–808 (1993).

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