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Yesterday a friend told me that pregnant women were supposed to avoid curry from 5 months onwards because of the chance of inducing labour. To me this sounds very much like an old-wives tale.

Spicy food is often suggested as a means of bringing on labour. There are no scientific theories relating to this, but it may be that it stimulates the gut and bowel and so encourages the uterus to get going by that means.

Surely there would be millions of premature babies every year in India if this were really the case?

Is there any scientific basis for this claim? Can anyone provide a reference to a study rather than an anecdote?

asked 20 Dec '09, 17:21

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Rich Seller
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edited 21 Dec '09, 02:25

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"Surely there would be millions of premature babies every year in India if this were really the case?" +1

(21 Dec '09, 19:58) Jeff
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I suspect there are no studies, because it's clearly rubbish.

(22 Dec '09, 10:07) Meg Stephenson
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Nicely put Meg, but that's the beauty of science. It is a verifiable theory, so someone probably has studied it

(22 Dec '09, 10:31) Rich Seller

Has anyone yet studied the link between divorce rates and banana consumption?

(22 Dec '09, 16:09) Meg Stephenson
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Meg, I'm not clear what you're trying to get at. Generally if something is "common knowledge" or "common sense" and verifiable someone will have studied it, the curry thing comes up fairly often so chances are it has been studied.

(22 Dec '09, 18:14) Rich Seller

Meg, see my answer that proposes a plausible way for it to be true (for people who are intolerant of spice, and then suddenly use very spicy food to induce distress). I still think it's rubbish, but not as wildly implausible as the banana hypothesis.

(22 Dec '09, 19:05) lgritz
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When my wife was pregnant, she ate curries and all variety of other spicy food, right up to the delivery date. My son came exactly on his due date, and as a bonus he has always liked spicy food to a surprising degree. To this day (3 yrs), he'd much rather have a really spicy palak paneer than something bland like macaroni. (We are not Indian, by the way.)

I couldn't find any definitive study either, but I agree with your reasoning that wide swaths of the world would be having premature babies if it were anything but an old wives tale.

I can sort of believe that if a woman is not used to spicy food and has avoided it for the whole pregnancy, then suddenly has it right at the end, the resulting gastric distress could encourage delivery. (Though that's still a hypothesis that needs confirmation with a real study.) But it seems fairly implausible that if you have spent a lifetime (and pregnancy) eating spice, that it would have any effect other than shaping a baby's tastes.

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answered 21 Dec '09, 01:16

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edited 21 Dec '09, 21:06

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+1 for final paragraph & "Gastric distress"

(21 Dec '09, 07:49) Emi

Yes, a lovely euphemism

(22 Dec '09, 08:43) Rich Seller

It is? What is it a euphemism for? I just meant that if you weren't used to eating spicy food, you could get some kind of upset stomach if you started suddenly. Though this has never happened to me.

(22 Dec '09, 19:04) lgritz

I would also have to agree. Never did I read anything during my pregnancy or hear from my Dr., OB or any nurse to avoid curries or spicy food while pregnant. As a bit of a side note, curry does not necessarily have to be spicy. It is also made up of a variety of spices that are used quite commonly in many dishes. I enjoy green curry and cocconut curry, as well as mild curry in recipes at home and none of them are particularly spicy. Therefore, the reasoning of avoid it as spicy food may induce labor does not hold true.

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answered 21 Dec '09, 02:35

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+1 for Curry info, they range from the mildest to the hottest "vindaloos"

(21 Dec '09, 07:23) Emi
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Take the point about spiciness being a range, I'm well versed in curries. However my experience of green curry from Thailand and Malaysia is that it is one of the hottest things I've ever eaten. Maybe I should ask a question on http://ask.recipelabs.com

(21 Dec '09, 09:36) Rich Seller

Well I have to admit I've never had authentic curry from Thailand or Malaysia, just Canadianized versions at restaurants here, or homemade recipes adapted to be milder by my Indian friends.

(22 Dec '09, 19:00) Tammy ♦♦

You've missed out, the green colour mainly comes from chillies, coriander, limes and kaffir lime leaves. Check out this recipe if you're interested: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/thaigreencurry_67788.shtml

(22 Dec '09, 21:02) Rich Seller
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Asked: 20 Dec '09, 17:21

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Last updated: 21 Dec '09, 21:06