Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Is licorice the next thing for pregnant women to avoid?

Pregnant women are already told to avoid smoking, alcohol and soft cheese and now it appears that there might be another substance for them to worry about - licorice. Licorice consumption is common among young women in Finland and a team of researchers from the universities of Helsinki and Edinburgh studied 321 eight-year-old children to look into the effects of licorice consumption in pregnancy. The children had previously taken part in a study into the links between licorice and early pregnancy so the researchers had a good idea about their mothers' licorice consumption during their pregnancy. The study found that women who ate more than a 100g of pure licorice a week during their pregnancy were more likely to have children with lower intelligence levels and more behavioural problems. The effect of licorice is thought to be due to a substance called glycyrrhizin which could affect the placenta allowing more stress hormones to cross over from the mother to her baby.

You can find out more about this research at

As if licorice wasn't enough to worry about researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the University of North Carolina have been looking into the effects of prenatal exposure to a substance called bisphenol A which is found in some types of plastic bottles, water pipes and medical tubing. The scientists took urine samples from 249 pregnant women in Ohio at 16 and 26 weeks in their pregnancy and at birth and the children's behaviour problems were assessed when they were two. The study found that girls whose mothers were exposed to high levels of bisphenol A were more likely to display aggressive and hyperactive behaviour, although there was no effect in boys.

You can find out more about this research at

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