Licorice: One Food to Avoid During Pregnancy?

Mothers-to-be will occasionally indulge in some strange eating patterns. Some expecting moms might even much on some licorice, something that might prove harmful to their future children.

Intelligence, Memory and Attention Span

A small group of Finland-based researchers contends that pregnant women should steer clear of licorice. Appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, this research analyzed the health- related data of 378 children and their mothers. All of these children were born in Finland’s capital of Helsinki in the year 1998.

The authors examined the intelligence test scores, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder risk and ability to recall information. Children born to mothers who frequently ate licorice during pregnancy fared relatively poorly on all of these criteria. In contrast, the children of women who shunned licorice exhibited better mental health and cognitive abilities.

Eating (and Drinking) Smart

There are two main limitations of the study. For one, the study surveyed less than 400 children. And secondly, the researchers concede that this research is not a controlled experiment involving licorice consumption and expecting mothers. Because of this fact, it is possible that other factors are responsible for the discrepancies between the two groups of children.

Katherine Keyes, a public health researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, was interviewed by the Reuters News regarding the study. “If you are going to avoid something in pregnancy, there is much more evidence for avoiding alcohol or smoking. With licorice consumption the science is still not clear.” stated Keyes. “Women are bombarded during pregnancy with so many things they can’t do and not listen because it’s too much. Focusing on
alcohol and tobacco is the most important, and focusing on other things like licorice is less important.”

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