MSG, Monosodium Glutamate or Ajinomoto is supposed to be that taste, apart from the basic ones that is known as Umami or the savory taste.
It adds an indefinable element to the food that elevates that taste and helps you taste the flavors better. While it has no taste of its own, it enhances others’ tastes.
MSG is added to a lot of things, even items as common as potato chips. Chinese food is another source of MSG since it is widely used in Chinese cooking particularly in preparation of restaurant food.
MSG’s potential for causing birth defects in rats when administered in high doses is well documented, however it is found to be safe to eat for humans generally speaking. This is true even in case of pregnant women.
Unless there is some particular sensitivity of certain individuals to MSG, it is to be avoided in any case; otherwise there is no reason for pregnant women not to have MSG.
The fact is that MSG occurs naturally and is not the villain that it is painted out to be. So far there is no definite cause of link ever proved or any evidence to substantiate the claim that MSG is harmful to the unborn baby or its development.
Some experts opine that even a large dose of MSG would not harm the baby. The FDA also classifies MSG as safe, right along with sugar, salt and baking soda which are all safe in moderation.
However some people are sensitive to MSG and among those that have sensitivity to MSG this condiment can cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and sleep disturbances in some cases.
Also the studies that were carried out in rats have not been replicated in human beings mostly because pregnant women are not likely to subject themselves and their unborn babies to tests willingly where large doses of MSG are administered just to see if their babies are born with birth defects.
So while MSG is considered generally safe to consume and is not prohibited or advised against even during pregnancy, if there is any feeling of trepidation on part of the mother that MSG is not good for her unborn child, then the consumption thereof can be avoided.
MSG is, by no means a necessity of any sort, it can easily be done without if there are any doubts either because of its high sodium content or otherwise. Since there is a legal requirement for foods containing the condiment to list it as an ingredient, it is easily avoided, and can be if one so wishes.