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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.