(photo credit: REUTERS)
Women in an advanced state of pregnancy who fast on Yom Kippur (or for any other reason) are at higher risk for a premature birth, according to researchers at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.
The study by BGU’s Natal Shalit and Prof. Eyal Sheiner, deputy head of Soroka and director of the obstetrics D department at the hospital, was published recently in the Journal of Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. The team studied the records of thousands of pregnant Jewish women over a period of 23 years to determine the effect of the 25-hour fast.
Premature birth is one of the most difficult complications as childbirth and is defined as delivering a baby before it reaches the gestational age of 37 weeks. The researchers theorized that dehydration and a fast are liable to create early labor pains and increase the risk of premature delivery. It did not include observant Muslim women who fasted from the early morning until nightfall for a month during Ramadan.
But they did compare the results with Beduin women and with Jewish women a week before Yom Kippur.
The sample was controlled to eliminate women with a history of premature deliveries.
Sheiner explained that there was no doubt that Jewish women who fasted on Yom Kippur were twice as likely to deliver prematurely than those who didn’t.