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Intergenerational effects of in utero exposure to Ramadan in Tunisia

Authors

  • S.H. Alwasel,

    1. Fetal Programming of Disease Research Chair, Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
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  • A. Harrath,

    1. Fetal Programming of Disease Research Chair, Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
    2. Research Unit Animal Reproduction and Developmental Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, Tunisia
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  • J.S. Aljarallah,

    1. Family and Community Medicine Department, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
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  • Z. Abotalib,

    1. Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
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  • C. Osmond,

    1. MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, Medical School, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
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  • S.Y. Al Omar,

    1. Fetal Programming of Disease Research Chair, Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
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  • I. Khaled,

    1. Research Unit Animal Reproduction and Developmental Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, Tunisia
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  • D.J.P. Barker

    Corresponding author
    1. Family and Community Medicine Department, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
    2. MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, Medical School, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
    3. Heart Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon
    • Fetal Programming of Disease Research Chair, Zoology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
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Correspondence to: D.J.P. Barker, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK. E-mail: djpbarker@gmail.com

Objectives

We have reported that changes in the lifestyle of pregnant women during Ramadan affect more than one generation. In a series of newborn babies in Saudi Arabia, those whose mothers had been in utero during Ramadan differed from those whose mothers had not been in utero during Ramadan. These were unexpected findings and require replication.

Methods

We examined body size at birth in 1,321 babies (682 boys and 639 girls) born in Gafsa, a small city in Tunisia.

Results

Babies whose mothers had been in utero during Ramadan were smaller and thinner, and had smaller placentas, than those whose mothers had not been in utero during Ramadan. After adjustment for sex, the babies were 93 g lighter (95% confidence interval, 32–153, P=0.003) than those whose mother had not been in utero during Ramadan, their mean ponderal index was 0.52 kg/m3 lower (0.24–0.79, P<0.001) and their placental weight was 21 g lower (5–37, P=0.01). The findings did not differ by trimester of maternal exposure to Ramadan. They were similar in boys and girls and in primiparous and multiparous mothers

Conclusion

This study provides further evidence that changes in lifestyle during Ramadan have intergenerational effects. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 25:341–343, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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