As if the list on taboo treats couldn’t get any longer, it seems there’s another strikethrough for preggie sweet tooths – good news is this one is an acquired taste, so many mums-to-be are in the clear…the bad news is that some of us really do love it.
According to a new study, pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of black liquorice because of links to compromised cognitive abilities in children.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki analysed 378 children whose mums had worked their way through plenty of liquorice during pregnancy. The results indicated a correlation between foetal exposure to substantial amounts of the sweet and “lower cognitive test scores and impaired performance on tests measuring memory capacity”. The test subjects also exhibited a higher incidence ADHD-like (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) issues when compared to peers, and puberty appeared to hit girls from the sample sooner the average age.
Specifically, it’s the ingredient glycyrrhizin in liquorice that’s behind the side effects. The study’s authors mention that glycyrrhizin has also been linked to high prenatal blood pressure and shorter gestation.
The exact amount that denotes unsafe exposure to liquorice is not yet determined, but some find it better to abstain altogether. Finnish expectant mothers, for example, are advised to avoid the stuff altogether, with the country’s National Institute for Health and Welfare listing liquorice as “not recommended” in their published guidelines for pregnant women.
But if you’ve already been loading up on liquorice whilst preggers, don’t panic.
“It is important to understand that a phenomenon discovered among a group of 378 youths does not necessarily explain the characteristics detected in the development of a single individual,” Eero Kajantie, research manager at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, emphasises.
Instead, switch up your saccharine addiction for straightforward chocolate – studies show that this occasional indulgence, at least, is totally okay for baby — yay!