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Is fasting safe for pregnant women?

Learn more about Ramadan and pregnancy and how a study finds some effects unfavorable to the developing baby.

Pregnancy and Ramadan

Based on a new research, pregnant Muslim women who have chosen to fast during Ramadan are more likely to give birth to tinier babies who will be more susceptible to learning disabilities when they are adults.

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Fasting during Ramadan

For those who are still quite unsure of what Ramadan signifies—it is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims will fast from dawn till dusk. Three out of four Muslim women will have their pregnancies coincide with Ramadan. According to a report on The Independent, a survey revealed that a majority of pregnant Muslim women observe fasting.

Nisa Khalid, Singaporean mum of a four-year-old shares: “I’ve met many mothers who observed fasting with no complications at all, in fact they loved being able to fulfill it.”

She added:  “I envy those mothers because personally Ramadan came when I was 9 months pregnant so indigestion and acid reflux made it difficult. Doctors tend to advice pregnant women to avoid the first and third trimester due to nutrition for the baby and the mother’s welfare but many women still go for it, if they can because it has it’s good points. My mother was fasting when she was 8 months pregnant with me!”

Pregnant women are able to be exempt from fasting but they are encouraged to make up for the days they were excused from fasting during Ramadan.

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Pregnancy and Ramadan: research findings

The authors of the research, Douglas Almond of Columbia University and Bhashkar Mazumder from the Federal Research Bank of Chicago came to the conclusion in their study on the effects of pregnancy and Ramadan:

“We generally find the largest effects on adults when Ramadan falls early in pregnancy. Rates of adult disability are roughly 20 per cent higher, with specific mental disabilities showing substantially larger effects. Importantly, we detect no corresponding outcome differences when the same design is applied to non-Muslims.” The study utilized census data from countries such as Uganda, Iraq and USA.

What do Islamic law experts about pregnancy and Ramadan?

An imam from Leicester, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra said: “Sharia [law] would not want the mother to unnecessarily burden herself. There’s no point being needlessly brave. When Ramadan falls during the winter months, more women will fast. But when it falls during the summer, when you might have to fast for 16 or 17 hours, it is understandable that fewer mothers will be fasting.”

If you are pregnant and fasting during Ramadan, or if you fasted while you were pregnant and have a healthy and thriving child, write in to us. Share your story on pregnancy and Ramadan. Email: [email protected]

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