Eating large amounts of licorice during pregnancy could have a detrimental impact on a child's intelligence and behavior, say European researchers who studied 8-year-old children in Finland, where many young women consume licorice.
The study found that children born to women who ate a lot of licorice while pregnant scored lower on tests than other youngsters, BBC News reported.
A component in licorice called glycyrrhizin may enable stress hormones to cross through the placenta from mother to child. These hormones may affect fetal brain development and have been linked to behavioral disorders, the researchers said.
The findings show "that eating licorice during pregnancy may affect a child's behavior or IQ and suggests the importance of the placenta in preventing stress hormones that may affect cognitive development getting through to the baby," said Professor Jonathan Seckl, of Edinburgh University's Centre for Cardiovascular Science, BBC News reported.
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.