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

CEP Discussion Paper No. 926

64 Pages Posted: 18 May 2009 Last revised: 8 Nov 2009

Reyn van Ewijk

University of Mainz

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2, 2009


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 & Mazumder (2008), and using Indonesian cross-sectional 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 of fasting mainly occurring among women who, irrespective of fasting or not, would have had unhealthier children anyway.

Keywords: health, Ramadan, pregnancy, nutrition, Indonesia

JEL Classification: I2, I12, J1, J14

Suggested Citation

van Ewijk, Reyn, Long-Term Health Effects on the Next Generation of Ramadan Fasting During Pregnancy (April 2, 2009). CEP Discussion Paper No. 926. Available at SSRN: or

Reyn Van Ewijk (Contact Author)

University of Mainz ( email )

Saarstrasse 21
Mainz, D-55099


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