Children's refusal to swallow liquid medication, or even vomit it back up, can be an important public health problem that means longer or more serious illness for thousands of kids each year.
In a report presented today at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Julie A. Mennella, Ph.D., described how knowledge from basic research on the chemical senses explains why a child's rejection of bitter medicine and nutritious but bitter-tasting foods like spinach and other green vegetables is a reflection of their basic biology.
She says that children are born with a much stronger preference for sweet flavors, naturally attracting infants to mother's milk. This heightened preference for sweets continues even in their teenage years. By late adolescence, kids start to outgrow their sugary predilection.