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Abstract:

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CEP Discussion Paper
Long-Term Health Effects on the Next Generation of Ramadan Fasting During Pregnancy
Reyn van Ewijk
April 2009
Paper No' CEPDP0926:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I2; I12; J1; J14


Tags: health; ramadan; pregnancy; nutrition; indonesia

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.