If you are pregnant, you probably already feel like you’re living a bit of a restricted lifestyle. You can’t do certain exercises. You can’t lift this or that. You can’t sleep this way or that way. You can’t eat sushi. You can’t have five alcoholic drinks in a row.

It’s almost as if life is no longer worth living! I’m kidding, that bundle of joy being on the way makes it all worth it. That said, I have more bad news, so I hope you’re laying down for it (laying properly so as not to hurt baby).

Pregnant women are now being advised to avoid black licorice. Before I go any further, I want to admit that I had no idea anyone even liked black licorice. That stuff is gross. But apparently it is rather popular, and for pregnant women who have a taste for the stringy black sugary candy, it could pose a serious risk, according to some Finish researchers.
According to the Finish study, children whose mothers had an affinity for consuming lots of black licorice during their pregnancy had lower IQs when compared to children of mothers who didn’t consume black licorice during pregnancy.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Apparently not, because there is more bad news: girls who were born to licorice feeding moms were found to reach puberty earlier than other girls whose mommies didn’t indulge in the devil’s rope.

You can find the exact study linked here if you like, but be warned; it’s a lot of very dull, technical verbiage that is a long winded way of saying black licorice is evil if you are a pregnant woman.

“The present findings suggest that pregnant women should be informed that consumption of licorice and other food products containing [a chemical found in licorice called] glycyrrhizin may be associated with harm for their developing offspring,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was led by Katri Räikkönen, a professor of psychology at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

The main issue is the licorice compound glycyrrhizin. This compound is what the Finish researchers condemn as the troublemaker. In simpleton terms, glycyrrhizin blocks an enzyme that helps protect the fetus from high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This could adversely affect the baby’s neurological development. Typically this enzyme converts the cortisol to cortisone, which poses no threat to baby. The worst part of the study is that it showed low amounts of glycyrrhizin allowed cortisol to pass through the placenta. Yep, this means even nibbling on black licorice could pose potential dangers.

For now, everyone doesn’t seem to be in agreement with the findings. Neither the FDA nor the WHO have come out to publicly condemn black licorice. But the Finish study is getting a lot of press. This might be one of those “better safe than sorry” deals.

So ladies, if you are pregnant, no sushi, no lifting heavy boxes and now it seems, no black licorice. Don’t worry, that bundle of joy should arrive before you know it and you can celebrate with a big long serving of the devil’s rope.