When women are pregnant there are a number of foods that doctors recommend them to stay away from. It has long been said that fish is something women should avoid when they are expecting, but a new study from the University of Helsinki has actually added new food item to the list, liquorice.
According to Academy Professor Katri Räikkönen, who was the lead author of the study published both on the University’s website as well as in the American Journal of Epidemiology, one food item pregnant women should not be eating happens to be liquorice. Specifically, the study found that women should limit their consumption of this product, although they do not have a recommendation for a safe amount that can be consumed without harm.
Based on the research, liquorice as well as the sweetener that is used in the product, glycyrrhizin, can end up having long-term effects on a developing fetus that are harmful. The study apparently looked at youths who were exposed to larger quantities of liquorice while their mother’s were pregnant with them. These youths were said to not perform as well on cognitive reasoning tests that were conducted by a psychologist. They were apparently compared to children who were not exposed to the food product and the difference was a seven point spread in terms of one’s IQ.
On top of the lowered IQs that were seen, the children exposed to high levels of liquorice while in the womb did not perform as well in tasks that were designed to test one’s memory capacity. There were also more issues with ADHD, according to the parents. Girls whose mother’s were pregnant with them and ate higher quantities of liquorice apparently went through puberty earlier than average, and advanced further than other girls their age.
The study from the University of Helsinki looked at 378 youths who were about 13-years-old. There were two groups looked at in the study, one set were children whose mothers ate large quantities of liquorice while they were pregnant, while the second group had mother’s who ate little to no liquorice. Large amounts was determined to be 500mg or more of the product containing glycyrrhizin, whereas little to none fell under 249mg every week.
While there may not be a determination yet as to exactly how much liquorice a woman who is pregnant can consume, it is clear that large amounts should be avoided. Much like other foods that doctors recommend avoiding, it looks like moderation is the order of the day when it comes to liquorice.
By Dorothea James