Mums-to-be warned against liquorice

August 9th, 2010 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 8 (IANS) Experts have advised expectant mothers to stay away from liquorice, a confectionery flavoured with the liquorice plant’s root extract, as it might put their unborn child at increased risk of developing diseases.

Experts have found eight-year-olds who were exposed to liquorice in the womb had levels of the hormone cortisol up to a third higher than those whose mothers never ate it.

Cortisol helps the body deal with stress, but it is also linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, reports

In the study by London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Helsinki, mothers were asked how much liquorice they ate in pregnancy. Their children were tested aged eight for cortisol levels.

The study found that those whose mothers ate half a gram a week of liquorice or more in pregnancy had cortisol levels a third higher than those whose mothers did not eat it.

Experts believe the presence of the naturally occurring sweet ingredient glycyrrhizin in liquorice ultimately affects the mechanism which regulates hormone levels.

Clinical scientist Alexander Jones of Great Ormond Street, one of the study’s authors, said: “For those who eat a lot of liquorice, it may be a good idea to cut down when pregnant.”

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