Attitudes and practices of breastfeeding mothers regarding fasting in Ramadan

Child Care Health Dev. 2001 Nov;27(6):545-54. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2001.00226.x.


Objective: To investigate the attitudes and practices of breastfeeding mothers regarding fasting in Ramadan.

Design: Cross-sectional observational survey.

Setting: Well-child care clinic at Ankara University Medical School and a health station serving an impoverished population in Ankara, Turkey.

Participants: Breastfeeding mothers of infants aged 12 months or younger.

Main outcome measures: Fasting during Ramadan.

Results: Of the 164 participating mothers, 61 (37%) were from the health station and 103 (63%) from the university clinic. Most mothers were older than 25 years of age (55%), had more than primary school education (64%), a single child (53%), were living in a nuclear family setting (70%), supplementing breastfeeding (73%) and fasting (52%). Among the 129 mothers of infants aged 6 months or younger, 22% perceived a decrease in their breast milk and 23% an increase in the amount of solid supplements the infant was receiving. Belief that breastfeeding mothers should fast (RR = 6.45, 95% CI: 2.44-17.06), that fasting does not decrease breast milk (RR = 6.24, 95% CI: 1.85-21.05), receiving well-child care at the health station (RR = 3.14, 95% CI: 1.33-7.44), giving supplements (RR = 2.82, 95% CI: 1.09-7.27) and having multiple children (RR = 2.78, 95% CI: 1.23-6.28) were associated with fasting, in a logistic regression model.

Conclusions: Fasting by breastfeeding mothers of infants is common during Ramadan, and rates are affected by beliefs of mothers on the effects of fasting on breastfeeding. We believe that child health care providers need to be knowledgeable about religious and cultural phenomena, study the effects of Ramadan fasting and form links with Islamic teachings to find religiously and culturally appropriate methods to combat the possible unfavourable effects for infants and children.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Fasting*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Islam*
  • Logistic Models
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Turkey