New study suggests love of chocolate starts in the womb

April 7, 2004, just-food.com: Scientists in Finland found that women who ate chocolate during pregnancy gave birth to happier, livelier babies.

A new study questioned 300 women before and after they gave birth. The results showed that those who ate chocolate daily while pregnant were more likely to say they had happy babies, reported BBC News Online.

According to a report in the New Scientist, the researchers think the mood-altering chemicals present in chocolate may be responsible for the findings. The chemicals in chocolate could be passed on from mother to baby in the womb.

However, UK-based chocolate maker Cadbury voiced skepticism about the findings.
"The chemical in chocolate that is said to boost people's mood is phenylethylamine," a spokesman told BBC News Online.

"However, it is found in much smaller quantities in chocolate compared to other foods like tomatoes and fruit.

"We think the mood altering effects of chocolate are more to do with psychology rather than chemicals. When chocolate melts in the mouth, it has a soothing, pleasurable quality and people feel happy about it," the spokesman said.

Nigel Denby from the British Dietetic Association warned against high consumption of chocolate by pregnant women.

"While chocolate can stimulate the release of serotonin, the happy hormone, it is unlikely that this will cross the placenta and affect the baby," he told BBC News Online.

"Women should only increase their weight in line with normal recommendations when they are pregnant. Chocolate is very high in calories and eating too much could lead to unsatisfactory weight gain,” he added.