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

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  • 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 ; Not for Citation.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-07-22
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    File URL: http://www.chicagofed.org/digital_assets/publications/working_papers/2007/wp2007_22.pdf
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    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 18:04:59

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Valente, C, 2011. "Children of the Revolution: Fetal and Child Health amidst Violent Civil Conflict," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 11/12, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Muhammad Nasir, 2018. "Prenatal Exposure to Shocks and Early-Life Health: Impact of Terrorism and Flood on Birth Outcomes in Pakistan," Working Papers id:12580, eSocialSciences.
    4. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Prenatal care ; Ramadan ; Fasting (Islam);

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