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Sex differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Sex differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
Sex differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
Objectives: in Europe, boys and girls have different body proportions at birth. We examined newborn babies in Saudi Arabia to determine the sex differences and whether fetal growth differed if the mother was in utero during Ramadan.

Methods: we examined body size at birth among 967 babies (479 boys and 488 girls) born in Unizah, a small city in Saudi Arabia.

Results: large head circumference was the strongest single predictor of male sex. In a simultaneous regression, female sex was predicted by small head circumference (P < 0.001), low birth weight (P = 0.002), and large chest circumference (P = 0.008). The mothers of boys were heavier in pregnancy than the mothers of girls and had a higher body mass index, 31.7 kg/m2 compared to 30.2 (P < 0.001). The mothers of girls, however, were taller than the mothers of boys, 158.6 cm compared to 157.4 (P = 0.001). Compared to babies whose mothers were not in utero during Ramadan boys whose mothers were in mid gestation during Ramadan were 1.2 cm longer (P = 0.005) while girls had a 0.4 week shorter gestation period (P = 0.04).

Conclusion: our findings are consistent with other evidence that boys are more ready than girls to trade off visceral development in utero to protect somatic and brain growth. They also support the hypothesis that boys are more responsive to their mother's current diet than girls, who respond more to their mother's life time nutrition and metabolism. They provide the first evidence that changes in the life style of pregnant women during Ramadan affect more than one generation
1042-0533
651-654
Alwasel, S.H.
ea0f8ea5-a186-4a34-a1c8-50cbc93aed52
Abotalib, Z.
650beb00-f3c2-4165-a3ab-bd3b2f868ba7
Alijarallah, J.S.
2e032997-b4e4-4af6-aee4-42dc3b5739b6
Osmond, C.
2677bf85-494f-4a78-adf8-580e1b8acb81
Alkharaz, S.M.
30fcc8d6-546a-42c2-85f9-42f2699af03d
Alhazza, I.M.
e2933702-f304-4e13-affa-d14ce891232c
Harrath, A.
f3f792e1-cb4e-4241-922d-8a1d8085af3c
Thornburg, K.
dcda6fb6-eeaa-40a8-b20b-1ed65e3d9b98
Barker, D.J.P.
64c6005a-eea7-4c26-8f07-50d875998512
Alwasel, S.H.
ea0f8ea5-a186-4a34-a1c8-50cbc93aed52
Abotalib, Z.
650beb00-f3c2-4165-a3ab-bd3b2f868ba7
Alijarallah, J.S.
2e032997-b4e4-4af6-aee4-42dc3b5739b6
Osmond, C.
2677bf85-494f-4a78-adf8-580e1b8acb81
Alkharaz, S.M.
30fcc8d6-546a-42c2-85f9-42f2699af03d
Alhazza, I.M.
e2933702-f304-4e13-affa-d14ce891232c
Harrath, A.
f3f792e1-cb4e-4241-922d-8a1d8085af3c
Thornburg, K.
dcda6fb6-eeaa-40a8-b20b-1ed65e3d9b98
Barker, D.J.P.
64c6005a-eea7-4c26-8f07-50d875998512

Alwasel, S.H., Abotalib, Z., Alijarallah, J.S., Osmond, C., Alkharaz, S.M., Alhazza, I.M., Harrath, A., Thornburg, K. and Barker, D.J.P. (2011) Sex differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. American Journal of Human Biology, 23 (5), 651-654. (doi:10.1002/ajhb.21193). (PMID:21630372)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Objectives: in Europe, boys and girls have different body proportions at birth. We examined newborn babies in Saudi Arabia to determine the sex differences and whether fetal growth differed if the mother was in utero during Ramadan.

Methods: we examined body size at birth among 967 babies (479 boys and 488 girls) born in Unizah, a small city in Saudi Arabia.

Results: large head circumference was the strongest single predictor of male sex. In a simultaneous regression, female sex was predicted by small head circumference (P < 0.001), low birth weight (P = 0.002), and large chest circumference (P = 0.008). The mothers of boys were heavier in pregnancy than the mothers of girls and had a higher body mass index, 31.7 kg/m2 compared to 30.2 (P < 0.001). The mothers of girls, however, were taller than the mothers of boys, 158.6 cm compared to 157.4 (P = 0.001). Compared to babies whose mothers were not in utero during Ramadan boys whose mothers were in mid gestation during Ramadan were 1.2 cm longer (P = 0.005) while girls had a 0.4 week shorter gestation period (P = 0.04).

Conclusion: our findings are consistent with other evidence that boys are more ready than girls to trade off visceral development in utero to protect somatic and brain growth. They also support the hypothesis that boys are more responsive to their mother's current diet than girls, who respond more to their mother's life time nutrition and metabolism. They provide the first evidence that changes in the life style of pregnant women during Ramadan affect more than one generation

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Published date: September 2011
Organisations: Faculty of Medicine

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 198037
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/198037
ISSN: 1042-0533
PURE UUID: 605e6086-a0e2-42d9-ba22-3bb55ded2ec5
ORCID for C. Osmond: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9054-4655

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Date deposited: 29 Sep 2011 13:41
Last modified: 29 Oct 2019 02:04

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Contributors

Author: S.H. Alwasel
Author: Z. Abotalib
Author: J.S. Alijarallah
Author: C. Osmond ORCID iD
Author: S.M. Alkharaz
Author: I.M. Alhazza
Author: A. Harrath
Author: K. Thornburg
Author: D.J.P. Barker

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