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The effects of maternal fasting during Ramadan on birth and adult outcomes

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Author Info

  • Douglas Almond
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

We use the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as a natural experiment for evaluating the short and long-term effects of fasting during pregnancy. Using Michigan natality data we show that in utero exposure to Ramadan among Arab births results in lower birthweight and reduced gestation length. Preconception exposure to Ramadan is also associated with fewer male births. Using Census data in Uganda we also find that Muslims who were born nine months after Ramadan are 22 percent (p =0.02) more likely to be disabled as adults. Effects are found for vision, hearing, and especially for mental (or learning) disabilities. This may reflect the persistent effect of disruptions to early fetal development. We find no evidence that negative selection in conceptions during Ramadan accounts for our results. Nevertheless, caution in interpreting these results is warranted until our findings are corroborated in other settings. ; Not for Citation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-07-22.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-07-22

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Related research

Keywords: Prenatal care ; Ramadan ; Fasting (Islam);

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Economics for reactionaries
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-10-29 13:04:59
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Cited by:
  1. Christine Valente, 2011. "Children of the Revolution: Fetal and Child Health amidst Violent Civil Conflict," Working Papers 2011018, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
  2. van Ewijk, Reyn, 2011. "Long-term health effects on the next generation of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1246-1260.
  3. Belton M. Fleisher & Seonghoon Kim, 2010. "The China Great Leap Forward Famine: The Lasting Impact of Mothers’ Fetal Malnutrition on Their Offspring," Working Papers 09-04, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.

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