TAS2R38 bitter taste genotype is associated with complementary feeding behavior in infants

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Background: Genetically mediated sensitivity to bitter taste has been associated with food preferences and eating behavior in adults and children. The aim of this study was to assess the association between TAS2R38 bitter taste genotype and the first complementary food acceptance in infants. Parents of healthy, breastfed, term-born infants were instructed, at discharge from the nursery, to feed their baby with a first complementary meal of 150 mL at 4 to 6 months of age. They recorded the day when the child ate the whole meal in a questionnaire. Additional data included food composition, breastfeeding duration, feeding practices, and growth at 6 months. Infants' TAS2R38 genotypes were determined at birth, and infants were classified as "bitter-insensitive" (genotype AVI/AVI) and "bitter-sensitive" (genotypes AVI/PAV or PAV/PAV). Results: One hundred seventy-six infants and their mothers were enrolled; completed data were available for 131/176 (74.4%) infants (gestational age 39.3 ± 1.1 weeks, birth weight 3390 ± 430 g). Bitter-insensitive were 45/131 (34.3%), and bitter-sensitive were 86/131 (65.6%). Thirty-one percent of bitter-insensitive infants consumed the whole complementary meal at first attempt, versus 13% of bitter-sensitive ones (p = 0.006). This difference was significant independently of confounding variables such as sex, breastfeeding, or foods used in the meal. Growth at 6 months did not differ between the two groups. Conclusions: Differences in TAS2R38 bitter taste gene were associated with acceptance of the first complementary food in infants, suggesting a possible involvement in eating behavior at weaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalGenes and Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 3 2019


  • Complementary food
  • Infants
  • TAS2R38

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Genetics


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