A study conducted in Lebanon found that the chances of preterm delivery are not increased if a woman fasts during the holy month of Ramadan. However, there is a chance that the baby could be smaller. The results of the study were published in a recent issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The study included 201 women from Beirut in their third trimester who fasted during the day for the entire month of Ramadan. The results of the observation were compared to data from 201 pregnant women who did not fast during this period. The number of preterm births i.e. babies born before the age of 37 weeks was equal in both groups. Preterm delivery before 32 weeks was slightly more common in the women who fasted (3 preterm births as compared to 1); however the difference was not statistically significant.
AdvertisementThe average birth weight of babies in the group who fasted was 3 kg. This was less than the average birth weight of babies in the group who had not fasted during this period; the average weight of babies from this group was 3.2 kg. The effects of this decrease in birth weight due to fasting over prolonged periods have not been studied. The weight gain of the mothers during the fasting period was an average of 1.6 kg in those who fasted as compared to 2.3 kg in those who did not fast.
The study is quite small to generalize the results on larger populations. The duration of fasting during Ramadan varies between countries; this factor should be taken into account while applying the results of this study to other populations.
1. J Awwad, IM Usta, J Succar, KM Musallam, G Ghazeeri, AH Nassar. The effect of maternal fasting during Ramadan on preterm delivery: a prospective cohort study. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03438.x.