London: Pregnant women could be putting their unborn babies at risk by fasting during Ramadan, says a new study.
As part of the research, Nick Ashton at the University of Southampton, UK, and colleagues at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia analyzed records of 7000 babies born in a Saudi hospital over a four-year period, and worked out during which trimester, if any, of their mother’s pregnancy Ramadan fell.
Surveys indicate that over 90 per cent of pregnant Muslim women fast.
The researchers found that while babies`` birth weights were similar in fasting and non-fasting Saudi women, the placentas of women who had fasted during the second or third trimester were 3 per cent lighter than average when the child was a boy and 1.5 per cent lighter for girls.
Children born with placentas that are smaller than average are known to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, though it is too early to advise pregnant women whether to fast, Ashton said.
"Birth weight isn’t affected, which is good, but we need to see whether a small placenta affects the risk of cardiovascular disease in these children in the long term," New Scientist quoted Ashton as saying.