Pregnant women advised to avoid the herbal remedy liquorice root

A new study suggests that consuming liquorice in pregnancy could affect your child’s IQ.

Researchers in Finland have found that eating liquorice in pregnancy may affect your child’s development. The study showed that girls and boys whose mothers who consumed large amounts of liquorice in pregnancy scored lower on intelligence tests and were more likely to have ADHD than other children.

While the study suggests that eating liquorice in pregnancy may cause developmental issues, more research is needed to confirm the link. Glycyrrhizin is the component that is thought to be damaging in liquorice, and while the study measured the amount of liquorice that women consumed, the amount of glycyrrhizin consumed was estimated.

As there is not yet enough evidence to suggest a direct link between eating liquorice in pregnancy and developmental issues in children, there are currently no UK guidelines that say pregnant women should avoid all liquorice.

But as a precaution, pregnant women are advised to avoid the herbal remedy liquorice root, as it has a particularly high concentration of glycyrrhizin.

We know that what you eat and drink affects your baby’s health which is why it’s important to avoid certain foods in pregnancy and to have a varied and balanced diet that is low in salt, sugar and fat. But it’s important to remember that herbal remedies like liquorice root can affect your baby  too.

If you decide to take herbal remedies or drink herbal teas in pregnancy then it’s important to discuss this with your midwife or doctor first.

Our midwife Amina explains why:

"You should always speak to your midwife or doctor before taking any herbal remedies in pregnancy. Some herbal remedies are powerful and work in the same way as prescribed medication and you should be cautious of taking herbal remedies at all if you are already taking prescribed medication. Just because they are natural does not mean they are always safe, especially during pregnancy. If you do decide to take herbal remedies or drink herbal teas then it’s important to discuss this with your health professional first."

Find out more about foods to avoid in pregnancy here