It is widely known that olfaction and taste sensations change during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Emesis occurs in 50-80% of pregnant women, and an increasingly keen olfaction may cause this nausea and vomiting. Similarly, changes in taste sensitivity may affect food preferences and consumption. The mechanism of this phenomenon is not understood. In addition, detailed data on olfaction and taste during pregnancy is limited. One hypothesis is that robust changes in hormonal balance may modulate olfaction and taste sensitivity during pregnancy.
Zn is required for normal taste sensation, including taste bud maintenance. Patients who suffer from taste dysfunction commonly have low serum Zn levels. In the clinic, Zn supplement therapy is generally successful in these cases. Cu, Fe and Mg also have some role in taste physiology, but they are not as critical as Zn, and are not a part of normal therapy. Recently, “Metallomics” has emerged as a new research field. Serum trace elements are associated with many diseases. Pregnancy is also associated with trace element serum level changes. These changes in trace element levels may lead to the observed alterations in olfaction and taste during pregnancy.In conjunction with the Departments of OB/GYN and Otorhinolaryngology, at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, we performed a detailed serial assessment of olfaction and taste in 30 pregnant subjects to evaluate possible relationships between taste-associated serum trace elements, appetite-related peptides (ghrelin and leptin), reproductive hormones (E2, HCG, LH, FSH, progesterone, oxytocin and PRL), and urine trace elements from the first trimester until post partum. The obtained results have been discussed in this presentation.