A child's life-long relationship with food and whether or not they are likely to become fussy eaters begins in the womb and is heavily shaped by what they eat in the first few months of life, studies suggest.

Scientists have found that the human foetus is able to detect the subtle flavours of food eaten by pregnant women by "smelling" the amniotic fluid in which they bathe.

Newborn babies continue to be influenced by food flavours, with separate research showing that the greater the variety of tastes they experience at six months, the more likely it is that they will not reject new kinds of food later on, said Benoist Schaal of the University of Bourgogne in Dijon.

"During pregnancy women are relatively permeable to their environment and what the mother takes in also, in a certain dose, goes to the foetus during a period when the brain is being formed, probably with long-term consequences," said Dr Schaal.

Scientists have also found that women who suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to babies with a liking for salty tastes.