Warnings for Pregnant Women Eating Licorice

Few pregnant women would think to take licorice off of their diet, but a recent study at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Helsinki shows that it may be wise to do so. Apparently, children exposed to licorice in the womb were found, during this study, to have up to one-third higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Mothers were asked how much licorice they ate during pregnancy, and the children were then tested at the age of 8 for coritsol levels. Children with higher cortisol levels had mothers who ate a half a gram of licorice a week or more during pregnancy.

Twizzlers Black Licorice has issued a warning about glycyrrhizic acid on its website. They state, “In excessive amounts, glycyrrhizic acid has been associated with undesirable side-effects including headache, sodium and water retention, loss of potassium, high blood pressure, and heart irregularities.”

Early Puberty for Girls on the Rise

An interesting new study shows that American girls are actually hitting puberty earlier than they used to – a change that is causing more risks for behavioral problems as adolescents and breast cancer as adults.

The findings, published in Pediatrics magazine, show that about 15% of 1,239 girls showed the beginning of breast development by the age of 7.  The new study doesn’t explain why girls are developing earlier.  It did show that heavier girls with a higher body-mass index were more likely to begin puberty earlier.  Since one third of children are overweight in America today, early puberty trends may be related to the obesity epidemic.

Hitting puberty early has many ramifications. It increases the odds that girls will develop low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.  Girls who hit puberty earlier are more likely to attempt suicide and to be sexually active earlier.

Timing a Pregnancy Post-Miscarriage

People in the medical profession, and regular couples, have long tried to figure out the secret to healthy conception after a miscarriage.  Certainly, most couples who miscarry feel a sense of loss and frustration, and they are eager to try again quickly.  But, is this the most advantageous idea?  Or is it healthier for the mother and fetus to wait awhile before trying again?

A new study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland suggests that women may actually have more success with a pregnancy if they get pregnant quickly after a miscarriage.  The scientists found that women who conceived within six months of a miscarriage had better chances of having a successful and full-term pregnancy than did women who conceived later.

Interestingly, this is contrary to an earlier study from Latin American that found that women should wait more than six months after miscarrying; and, this earlier study formed the basis of the World Health Organization’s 2005 recommendations that women put off a pregnancy for six months after miscarrying.

This Scottish study is the first attempt to provide better data for the optimal timing of pregnancy.  The World Health Organization has called for more studies on conception after miscarriage, and this study certainly shows an important beginning to this research.

Dangers of Dietary Supplements

More and more people today take vitamin supplements without consulting a medical professional. Their assumption is that these supplements can only be beneficial, and that they don’t need to be approved or checked by a healthcare professional.  A recent study by Consumer Reports says otherwise.  The report listed 12 ingredients that are found in supplements that are linked to serious side effects.

These ingredients include: aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe.  The FDA spokesperson says that the FDA does caution consumers about possible side effects with seven of these supplements (aconite, chaparral, colloidal silver, comfrey, germanium, kava and yohimbe), but that they do not know with what evidence or scientific basis Consumer Reports has come to these conclusions.

While the FDA used to regulate dietary supplements in the same fashion that they regulated other foods, this changed in 1994.  Since that time when DSHEA was signed into law by President Clinton, it has been up to the manufacturer to determine which supplements are safe.  Doctors urge the general public to be very aware of what supplements they are using and to check with their doctor before starting to use any new supplements.