Do pregnant women smell different?

08 November 2009

Question

Is pregnancy is detectable by smell?

Answer

Chris - I think that you could probably make a case. What do you think, Oriane? I think you can probably make a case that you could detect pregnancy on the basis of smell because, say mosquitoes, they could be aligned for women who are pregnant. That could be for a number of reasons. One of them is that women who are pregnant have a higher metabolic rate so they breathe more.Oriane: - They also have a higher temperature.Chris: - Yeah.Oriane: - Due to the high progesterone during pregnancy.Chris: - So it could be either of those things.Oriane - Yeah.Chris: - But if they're having a higher temperature, they're probable exuding more volatile chemicals so they probably where have a slight different smell signature. The mosquitoes can definitely home in on them. So I think probably you could train a dog in the same way that dogs can be trained to discriminate urine from people who have renal and bloody cancers, on the basis of the volatile chemicals that the cancer puts into the urine. Dogs can pick that up. I reckon you probably could train a dog, something with a very sensitive nose, on, say, a woman's urine, or on a woman's sweat in order to tell whether she's pregnant on the basis of a slight shift in the metabolism of that pregnant person.Helen - An interesting form of sniffer dogs, definitely.

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