Background: There are many advantages of breast milk for infants. Many factors can affect the volume and composition of breast milk. One of them is the maternal diet. The objective of this study is to determine the effect of Ramadan fasting on maternal nutrition and breast milk composition.
Methods: A total of 21 breast-feeding mothers aged between 17 and 38 years who fasted during Ramadan month and volunteered to give milk samples were surveyed. The ages of the infants were between 2 and 5 months. The study was performed during Ramadan and 2 weeks after the end of Ramadan.
Results: The results showed that during Ramadan, zinc, magnesium and potassium levels in breast milk decreased significantly (P < 0.05). The mother’s weight increased approximately 1 kg after Ramadan. Changes in body mass index of the mother were not statistically significant. A significant decrease in vitamin A intake was observed after Ramadan (P < 0.05). During Ramadan, energy and most nutrient intakes except protein and vitamins A and C were found below daily recommended dietary allowances necessary for lactating women.
Conclusions: Ramadan fasting had no significant effect on the macronutrient composition of the breast milk and consequently the growth of the infants. There were significant differences in some of the micronutrients such as zinc, magnesium and potassium. The nutritional status of lactating women was affected by Ramadan fasting. All of the nutrient intakes (except vitamins A, E and C) decreased during Ramadan. For these reasons, it would seem prudent to excuse lactating women from fasting during Ramadan.