Salt preference in adolescence is predicted by common prenatal and infantile mineralofluid loss

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We investigated early determinants of salt preference in humans. In animals, physiological events, among them perinatal mineralofluid loss, contribute to long-term salt intake. Recent findings suggest that in humans prenatal mineralofluid loss (high levels of maternal vomiting) may increase the lifelong avidity for salt in offspring. Here we report that commonly occurring events that cause mild fluid loss and electrolyte imbalance in infancy, as well as prenatally, predict the avidity for salt in adolescents. Using questionnaires, 50 mothers recalled incidence and severity of infantile diarrhea and vomiting in their adolescent offspring. The adolescents' avidity for salt was determined by testing the preferred concentration of salt in soup, voluntary consumption of salty snack items, and by self report of salt use habits, and a dietary questionnaire. A reported history of mineralofluid loss including maternal vomiting and infantile vomiting and diarrhea increases the avidity for salt but not for sweet. Thus, commonly occurring early mineralofluid loss may contribute to lifelong salt intake. The findings raise the possibility that other causes of mineralofluid loss such as hemorrhage, exercise-induced dehydration, or neonatal diuretic therapy may also increase the avidity for salt, and its attendant health risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-704
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 1998


  • Diarrhea
  • Human
  • Maternal vomiting
  • Mineralofluid loss
  • Salt appetite
  • Vomiting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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