(HealthDay News) – Pregnant women who fast during the month of Ramadan do not have an increased risk of preterm delivery, regardless of when during gestation the fasting occurs.

Johnny Awwad, MD, of the American University of Beirut Medical Centre, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 402 women (201 in the fasting group and 201 in the control group) who received prenatal care between 20–34 weeks of gestation during the month of Ramadan in 2008. The authors sought to determine what effect fasting had on the rate of preterm delivery.

No difference in the rate of preterm delivery was observed for Ramadan-fasted women compared with women in the control group. Also, no difference in the rate of preterm delivery was observed between those who fasted before or during the third trimester. However, the researchers found that the mean birth weight of infants from fasting mothers was lower (3,094 vs. 3,202g; P=0.024). Additionally, Ramadan-fasted women had higher rates of ketosis and ketonuria.

“In conclusion, the findings of the present study showed that Ramadan fasting during the month of September did not increase maternal risk for preterm delivery in healthy singleton pregnancies >20 weeks of gestation, despite a smaller gain in maternal weight, increased incidence of ketosis and ketonuria, and significant reduction in birth weight,” the authors write.

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