Ramadan During Pregnancy and Newborn’s Birth Weight: A Study in South-East Asia

Presenter: Ary Savitri, Julius Center UMC

Background: Women’s life style during pregnancy has been known to relate with their own short and long-term health and that of their babies. An example might be adherence to Ramadan fasting by pregnant women. We evaluated the association between Ramadan exposure and fasting in pregnancy and newborn’s birth weight as a representation for fetal growth.  In addition, women’s risks for hypertensive disorders during pregnancy were evaluated.

Methods: We used data from 1,066 women from an on-going prospective cohort in Budi Kemuliaan Hospital, Jakarta, Indonesia, who were recruited at their first antenatal care visit and followed until delivery for pregnancy outcomes.  Based on their last menstrual period and date of delivery, women were classified as having been exposed to Ramadan in pregnancy or not. Women who came to the hospital in Ramadan in year 2013 were interviewed about their fasting behavior. Dietary assessments using 24-hour dietary recall were also performed during Ramadan and one month later.

Results: Compared to no pregnancy exposure, babies from women who were exposed to Ramadan and fasted were 128 grams heavier (95% CI: 8.33, 247.22, p < 0.05), while babies from women who were exposed to Ramadan and did not fast were 200 grams heavier (95% CI: 22.08, 373.30, p < 0.05). No difference was found with respect to the risk for hypertensive disorders during pregnancy. Women who fasted had significantly lower intake of total energy, macronutrients, and water as compared to the non-fasting. Women’s intakes were also less during Ramadan (both in the fasting and non-fasting group) as compared to one month later.

Conclusion: Ramadan exposure during pregnancy is associated with higher newborns birth weight regardless of mother’s fasting behavior, although nutrient intakes were generally less during Ramadan. No association was found between Ramadan exposure and occurrence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.