Intellectual development of children born of mothers who fasted in Ramadan during pregnancy
The long-term effect of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy on the brain development of the fetus are still not clear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of maternal fasting during Ramadan on the intelligence quotient of their progeny. A historical cohort study was conducted on 191 children aged between 4 to 13 years, 98 whose mothers fasted throughout Ramadan when they were pregnant with their children (case group) and 93 children whose mothers did not fast (control group). The children were selected from 15 schools via a questionnaire filled out by their mothers. Detailed demographic, medical history, and socioeconomic status data were collected by interviewing the mothers. All children aged between 6 to 13 were administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R), and those aged between 4 to 6 were administered Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI), and intelligence quotient was estimated. Cases included 47 boys and 51 girls aged 8.5 +/- 2.5 years and controls included 44 boys and 49 girls aged 8.7 +/- 2.5 years. There were no significant differences in sex and age between two groups. Among background and confounder variables, the percentage of Caesarean section and the duration of breast-feeding were significantly different between case and control groups; 29% Caesarean section in cases vs. 45% in controls ( p < 0.05) and 17.2 +/- 9 months breast-feeding for cases vs. 14.5 +/- 9 months for controls ( p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in socioeconomic status of families between the groups whereas socioeconomic status accounted for approximately 17% of the variances in the average of full-scale intelligence quotient scores. Adjusted mean and standard deviation of full-scale intelligence quotient scores, performance and verbal, were 111 +/- 10, 109 +/- 11 and 110 +/- 11 for the case group and 112+/- 10, 110 +/- 11, and 110 +/- 11 for the control group respectively. No significant differences were observed between the IQ scores of the two groups. Fasting during gestation did not adversely affect IQ of children whose mothers had fasted during Ramadan while being pregnant.