Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Yes, you read that correctly.

A new study suggests that eating licorice while pregnant can harm your child. Apparently, women who eat too much licorice have children who, on average, have lower IQs and more behavioral issues. 
Expectant mothers who eat excessive quantities of liquorice during pregnancy could adversely affect their child's intelligence and behaviour, a study has shown.
A study of eight year old children whose mothers ate large amounts of liquorice when pregnant found they did not perform as well as other youngsters in cognitive tests.
They were also more likely to have poor attention spans and show disruptive behaviour such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
It is thought that a component in liquorice called glycyrrhizin may impair the placenta, allowing stress hormones to cross from the mother to the baby.
High levels of such hormones, known as glucocorticoids, are thought to affect fetal brain development and have been linked to behavioural disorders in children.

The article continues here

I guess sometimes weird tasting foods are weird-tasting for a reason.

Evolutionary-based medicine would suggest that our palates have evolved in a way to help us survive. Basically, we avoid bitter foods because they tend to be poisonous, and enjoy sweet foods because of the sugar content, and devour fatty foods because they were so rare to come by in our hunter-gatherer
ancestor's lifestyles. It's not foolproof, but it works fairly well.

We can see many animals do this all the time. A friend of mine had a cat, and observed that the cat would start nibbling on certain plants when it got sick. She hypothesized that the cat might be drugging itself. Then again, the cat might have been throwing up in the first place because it was nibbling on those weird plants. There's an easy way to experiment on this (take a healthy cat and feed it those plants, or take a sick cat and deprive it of those plants and see if it takes longer to recover), but obviously she wasn't going to experiment on her very own pet.

Humans aren't the only ones with pregnancy problems and food. In one study of a population of sheep, certain plants that they ate began to evolve substances that would basically abort the fetuses of pregnant sheep, keeping their population in check. Plants can be pretty dangerous things.

In another pregnancy horror story involving evolution, during the 1950s and 1960s doctors began prescribing a drug that fought pregnancy sickness called Thalidomide. Problem is, pregnancy sickness is actually your body's way of keeping the mother and her baby healthy. It makes you throw up and avoid foods that are bad for your developing child, and crave food that is it believes is healthy for you to eat. Again, not 100% fool proof, but much better than using drugs that we don't fully understand.

What happened to those pregnant mothers who used those pregnancy sickness drugs? They had children with severe birth defects, including missing limbs. Thalidomide also resulted in more than 75% of those babies born (which doesn't even count miscarriages) dying.

We all need to be more careful in what we put in our bodies. Just because death via childbirth is rare these days doesn't mean pregnancy has become a light matter.

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