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A new study has urged pregnant women or those who are planning for pregnancy to avoid large amounts of liquorice as it has been found that youth who were exposed to larger amount of liquorice in the womb were not at par with others in cognitive reasoning.

Researchers in Finland have suggested through their study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that youth who were exposed to larger amount of liquorice in the womb performed less than others in cognitive reasoning, performed less in memory measuring capacity tasks and also had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-related problems more than others.

For the study researchers equated 378 youth of about 13 years whose mother had consumed large amounts or little/no liquorice during pregnancy. Researchers classified large amount of liquorice as over 500 mg and little/no as 249 mg glycyrrhizin per week.

It is suggested that all the women who are pregnant and women planning pregnancy should be told about the harmful effects of the products containing glycyrrhizin on the foetus. In Finland, this has already become a 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.

But, occasional consumption of small amounts such as a portion of liquorice ice cream or sweets is not dangerous. Glycyrrhizin is one of the main factors that affect the development of a foetus. But it is impossible to say whether it was glycyrrhizin expressly that affected the development of a certain individual.

Glycyrrhizin intensifies the effects of stress hormone cortisol by inhibiting the enzyme that inactivates cortisol, while cortisol is essential to the development of a foetus. Short term effects of glycyrrhizin have been seen from a long time, but such long-lasting effects on the foetus have not been proven before.

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