If you are pregnant or thinking about conceiving a baby, you know how important it is to eat healthily. Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to be aware of all the ingredients in certain products, at least, without a careful research. According to a recent undertaken by specialists from the University of Helsinki in Finland, you might want to stay away from liquorice. The study revealed that the common snack is high in glycyrrhizin, a substance which can affect the developing baby and increase the risk of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Overview of the study
The researchers involved in the study demonstrated that eating liquorice during pregnancy can increase the risk for developmental problems, with both the intellect and memory of the child being affected. The study was undertaken on 378 children with an average age of 12 ½, born in 1998. The children came from mothers who consumed different quantities of liquorice during their pregnancy (and, thus, of glycyrrhizin).
The mothers of the children who took part in the study were asked to mention how often they consumed liquorice during their pregnancy, as well as specific the brand. Thus, they analyzed their ; the quantity consumed varied between 500 mg (high) and 249 mg (low) per week. In Finland, the consumption of liquorice is higher, in comparison to other countries, as there are salty snacks (salmiakki) that contain such ingredients.
What did the study reveal?
The first thing that the study demonstrated was that the girls who came from mothers who consumed high quantities of liquorice during their pregnancies presented a higher risk for early puberty. It was also proven that eating such snacks during pregnancy can affect intelligence in children, increasing the risk for behavioral problems, such as ADHD. In fact, the high consumption of liquorice during pregnancy was associated with lower results on intelligence tests, for both boys and girls.
From the 378 children who participated in the study, it was revealed that 327 had been exposed to reduced quantities of liquorice during pregnancy. However, 51 children had been exposed to high quantities, as it was mentioned above. For the study, researchers analyzed the development of the children, as well as the present signs of puberty. Developmental factors, such as the body mass index, weight and height were measured. Children were administered specific tests for intelligence, learning, and memory, while parents were asked to complete a checklist for psychiatric and behavioral problems. The neuroendocrine function was also assessed by medical specialists.
The girls who came from mothers who consumed high amounts of liquorice during pregnancy were taller, heavier and also presented a higher body mass index. They were also at risk of early puberty. For boys, no associations have been identified, between the consumption of liquorice in pregnancy and developmental changes in childhood and adolescence. Interestingly enough, the high consumption was associated with lower scores on intelligence tests, as well as with higher risks of ADHD.
Glycyrrhizin, the active ingredient responsible for all the problems
Glycyrrhizin is a natural constituent of liquorice and one that we are clearly not aware of. As this study revealed, its consumption can have a negative impact on the baby developing in the womb, increasing, among other things, the risk for ADHD. For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women should avoid liquorice in all of its forms. This is particularly valid for liquorice root, as this contains glycyrrhizin in high quantities.
It is also important to mention that this substance is also found in other food products, beverages, and even medication. The study in Finland concentrated only on liquorice as a snack and did not include other products. However, if you are pregnant, it is recommended to always check the ingredients in a product or, if these are not present, to request additional information from the manufacturers. Given the high risk of behavioral problems, associated with the consumption of liquorice during pregnancy, such ingredients should be listed on all products, including in the prospects of various drugs. Otherwise, you could expose yourself unknowingly to serious risks.
A quick note on ADHD
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders out there, being diagnosed in children and adolescents from various countries and cultures. The first symptoms become obvious at school age, leading to poor performance and difficult social interaction. The paradox of this condition is that these children manage to maintain a moderate degree of attention for the things they consider to be interesting.
Counseling remains the standard form of treatment for children who are diagnosed with ADHD, being accompanied by lifestyle changes in the majority of cases. The administration of medication is recommended only for the severe cases, and it rarely manages to provide the desired results.
When you are pregnant, you have to think not only about yourself but also about your developing baby. You have to pay attention to the things you eat, the products that you use and especially to the medication you are taking. You will often see that liquorice is recommended as a remedy for , as well as for its rich content in iron. In such situations, it is important to understand that the risks outweigh the advantages offered. Seek out other remedies that will help you get the deal with pregnancy symptoms just as efficiently, always talking to your doctor first.
Kathy Mitchell is a writer and avid researcher on the subject of Beauty, nutrition, and general wellness. She likes to go out with her friends, travel, swim and practice yoga. In her free time, you can find Kathy curled up reading her favorite novel, or writing in her journal. She is regular Contributor at . To Know more about her follow her on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.