Pregnancy Risk: Eating Too Much Licorice Could Affect Baby's Brain

By Christie Abagon , Feb 06, 2017 10:54 PM EST

Some pregnant women develop a deep craving to eat specific food. It is not exactly known as to what causes these cravings, but these could sometimes just come out of nowhere, and they can be overpowering. A recent study shows pregnant women should not add black licorice to their list of cravings.

Glycyrrhizin Which Is Found In Licorice Is Said To Impair The Placenta

Researchers from Finland claimed that children who were exposed to large amount of black licorice in the womb perform less than others when it comes to cognitive reasoning. These children also performed less in memory measuring capacity tasks, and had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-related problems more than others.

Additionally, girls born to moms who consumed high amounts of licorice while pregnant reached puberty earlier than those born to mothers who ate little to no licorice. According to Live Science, this study shows that it is important to be informed about licorice consumption during pregnancy. Black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound which is taken from the licorice root. This chemical compound is said to impair the placenta by allowing stress hormones to cross from the mother to the baby.

Finland Has Added Licorice In The 'Not Recommended' Category For Pregnant Women

Medical Daily reported that occasional consumption of products with licorice like ice cream or sweets is not dangerous, but food cravings should be kept in proportion. Glycyrrhizin is one of the many factors that affect fetal development, and it intensifies the effects of stress hormone cortisol by inhibiting the enzyme that inactivates cortisol. Previous study has already explained the short-term effects of glycyrrhizin, but this is the first study that has seen the long-lasting effects of the compound to the fetus.

Experts advise that women who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant should be told about the harmful effects of products containing glycyrrhizin. In Finland, the National Institute for Health and Welfare published food recommendations last year and licorice was placed in the 'not recommended' category for pregnant women.

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