Nav: Home

A new study confirms: Pregnant women should avoid liquorice

February 03, 2017

A new Finnish study supports food recommendations for families with children in that women should avoid consuming large amounts of liquorice during pregnancy. The limit for safe consumption is not known.

In the study, youths that were exposed to large amounts of liquorice in the womb performed less well than others in cognitive reasoning tests carried out by a psychologist. The difference was equivalent to approximately seven IQ points.

Those exposed to liquorice also performed less well in tasks measuring memory capacity, and according to parental estimates, they had more ADHD-type problems than others. With girls, puberty had started earlier and advanced further.

The Glaku study carried out by the University of Helsinki, the National Institute for Health and Welfare and the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital districts compared 378 youths of about 13 years whose mothers had consumed "large amounts" or "little/no" liquorice during pregnancy. In this study a large amount was defined as over 500 mg and little/no as less than 249 mg glycyrrhizin per week. These cutoffs are not based on health effects. 500 mg glycyrrhizin corresponds on average to 250 g liquorice.

The study report was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The first author of the article is Academy Professor Katri Räikkönen from the University of Helsinki.

Researchers suggest that pregnant women and women planning pregnancy should be informed of the harmful effects that products containing glycyrrhizin - such as liquorice and salty liquorice - may have on the fetus.

In Finland, this is already reality. In January 2016, the National Institute for Health and Welfare published food recommendations for families with children, in which liquorice was placed in the 'not recommended' category for pregnant women. According to the recommendations, occasional consumption of small amounts such as a portion of liquorice ice cream or a few liquorice sweets is not dangerous.

Researchers underline that things should be kept in proportion. A large number of Finns have been exposed to glycyrrhizin in the womb. Glycyrrhizin is one of many factors that affect the development of a fetus but it is impossible to say whether it was glycyrrhizin expressly that affected the development of a certain individual.

As a result of animal experiments, the biological mechanism of the effects of liquorice is well known. Glycyrrhizin intensifies the effects of stress hormone cortisol by inhibiting the enzyme that inactivates cortisol. While cortisol is essential to the development of a fetus, it is detrimental in large amounts.

It has long been known that glycyrrhizin causes higher blood pressure and shorter pregnancies in humans, but such long-lasting effects on the fetus have not been proven before.
-end-
Source: Katri Räikkönen et al., Maternal licorice consumption during pregnancy and pubertal, cognitive and psychiatric outcomes in children. American Journal of Epidemiology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kww172.

Further information: Academy Professor Katri Räikkönen, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 29 5248610, katri.raikkonen@helsinki.fi

Research Manager Eero Kajantie, National Institute for Health and Welfare, tel. +358 29 5248610, eero.kajantie@thl.fi

University of Helsinki

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity
Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit the development of 'male behavior' in mice.
The cost of opioid use during pregnancy
A new study published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome -- often caused by mothers using opioids during pregnancy -- is increasing in the United States, and carries an enormous burden in terms of hospital days and costs.
New study: Pre-pregnancy BMI directly linked to excess pregnancy weight gain
It's well known that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have a lasting negative impact on the health of a mother and her baby.
Pregnancy-specific β1-glycoproteins
Development of new strategies and novel drug design to treat trophoblastic diseases and to provide pregnancy success are of crucial importance in maintenance the female reproductive health.
Should hypothyroidism in pregnancy be treated?
When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body.
More Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...