The effect of prenatal Ramadan exposure on child health in Indonesia: a longitudinal perspective

Yohanes Sondang Kunto, Wageningen University
Jornt Mandemakers, Wageningen University

Although they are permitted to skip fasting, many pregnant Muslim women continue to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Evidence on the effect of such practice for the health of the conceived child is a topic of debate. Previous cross-sectional studies showed compromised adult health. However, others were against the results. The basis of their argument is insignificant differences in birth weight of relatively younger cohort. Unlike previous studies, we contribute to the debate by presenting the first evidence from a longitudinal panel data analysis. We exploit longitudinal panel structure of the Indonesian Family Life Survey to analyse consequences of being exposed to Ramadan during pregnancy on health in early childhood to late adolescence. By using fixed effect regression model, we find a retarded height growth of those who experienced Ramadan while in utero. Compared to the unexposed, the height growth of boys and girls who were exposed to Ramadan in early pregnancy are 1.33 cm and 1.25 cm less respectively in late adolescence. However, we are unable to find any evidence of negative effects on weight and BMI. Our findings conclude that the effect of prenatal Ramadan exposure develops through age and is not cohort dependent.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session 2