Norwegian Authority warns pregnant women to avoid ginger supplements

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority warns pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant to avoid ginger supplements and ginger-containing shots.

The warning comes after the Danish Technical University (DTU) and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration carried out a new risk assessment that found a higher abortion risk in animal studies.

In the report, the DTU said the results did not exclude the possibility that large ginger quantities could also increase this risk in humans.

“The DTU Food Institute concludes that in many cases ginger root ingestion from a single ginger shot will be larger (up to 20-23 grams (g) per day) than the fresh or dried amount typically eaten in the diet.

“Experiments in rats indicate that ginger can affect the normal foetal development,”​ says the report​, dated 21 December 2018.

‘A sensitive period’

“The studies conducted so far in humans did not investigate whether ginger can have a harmful effect early in pregnancy. Animal studies suggest that it may be a particularly sensitive period.

“There is a small safety margin between the daily dose linked to harmful effects during pregnancy in rats and the amount of ginger that can be consumed with one ginger shot,”​ the report continues.

Along with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health assessed the Danish report, supporting its conclusions and issuing the warning against taking ginger shots and supplements with ginger.

The report detailed one of the animal experiments, in which rats were given 20-50 grams (g) of fresh, grated ginger mixed with 1 litre of water. 

Even the lowest dose of 20 g of ginger increased the incidence of abortion, the report highlighted, stating that the low dose corresponds to 1784 milligrams (mg) of ginger per kilogram of body weight for a rat.

In comparison, a woman weighing 70 kg will consume between 24 and 329 mg of ginger per kilogram of body weight if she drinks one shot with ginger per day. 

This is based on data showing that a ginger threat usually contains between 1.7 and 23 g of ginger.

‘Cause for concern’

“This calculation shows that a woman weighing 70 kg will consume much less ginger (24 - 329 mg) if she drinks one shot per day, compared to the rats in the experiment (1784 mg),”​ the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said.

“Still, there is cause for concern. The main reason is that the animal studies do not answer whether even smaller amounts of ginger would give an increased incidence of abortion in the rats. 

“Furthermore, the results of animal experiments cannot necessarily be transmitted directly to humans.” 

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority points out the report takes into account a safety factor of 100 (which is common in risk assessment of health hazards when data comes from animal studies)

The Authority concludes that one cannot exclude the foetal risk when pregnant women consumed ginger in the amounts found in a ginger shot.

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