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Long-Term Health Effects on the Next Generation of Ramadan Fasting During Pregnancy

  • Reyn van Ewijk

Each year, many pregnant women fast from dawn to sunset during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Medical theory suggests that this may have negative long-term health effects on their offspring. Building upon the work of Almond and Mazumder (2008), and using Indonesian crosssectional data, I show that people who were exposed to Ramadan fasting during their mother's pregnancy have a poorer general health and are sick more often than people who were not exposed. This effect is especially pronounced among older people, who, when exposed, also report health problems more often that are indicative of coronary heart problems and type 2 diabetes. The exposed are a bit smaller in body size and weigh less. Among Muslims born during, and in the months after, Ramadan, the share of males is lower, which is most likely to be caused by death before birth. I show that these effects are unlikely to be an artifact of common health shocks, correlated to the occurrence of Ramadan, or o f fasting mainly occurring among women who, irrespective of fasting or not, would have had unhealthier children anyway.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0926.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0926
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  1. Lindeboom, Maarten & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2004. "Cut-Point Shift and Index Shift in Self-Reported Health," IZA Discussion Papers 1286, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "The effects of maternal fasting during Ramadan on birth and adult outcomes," Working Paper Series WP-07-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile & Phongsack Manivong & Leslie L. Roos, 2010. "Child Health and Young Adult Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(3).
  4. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Ramadan Observance during Pregnancy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 56-85, October.
  5. Jorg Baten & Dorothee Crayen & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2014. "Numeracy and the Impact of High Food Prices in Industrializing Britain, 1780–1850," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 418-430, July.
  6. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Maternal Fasting During Pregnancy," NBER Working Papers 14428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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