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

S. H. Alwasel, Z. Abotalib, J. S. Aljarallah, C. Osmond, S. M. Alkharaz, I. M. Alhazza, A. Harrath, Kent Thornburg, D. J P Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    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/m 2 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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)651-654
    Number of pages4
    JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
    Volume23
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 2011

    Fingerprint

    Saudi Arabia
    pregnancy
    gender differences
    Sex Characteristics
    Mothers
    Parturition
    infants
    head circumference
    baby
    body mass
    trade-off
    brain
    nutrition
    body size
    metabolism
    diet
    Pregnancy
    gestation period
    gender
    low birth weight

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology
    • Anatomy
    • Genetics
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

    Cite this

    Alwasel, S. H., Abotalib, Z., Aljarallah, J. S., Osmond, C., Alkharaz, S. M., Alhazza, I. M., ... 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. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.21193

    Sex Differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. / Alwasel, S. H.; Abotalib, Z.; Aljarallah, J. S.; Osmond, C.; Alkharaz, S. M.; Alhazza, I. M.; Harrath, A.; Thornburg, Kent; Barker, D. J P.

    In: American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 23, No. 5, 09.2011, p. 651-654.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Alwasel, SH, Abotalib, Z, Aljarallah, JS, Osmond, C, Alkharaz, SM, Alhazza, IM, Harrath, A, Thornburg, K & Barker, DJP 2011, 'Sex Differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia', American Journal of Human Biology, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 651-654. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.21193
    Alwasel, S. H. ; Abotalib, Z. ; Aljarallah, J. S. ; Osmond, C. ; Alkharaz, S. M. ; Alhazza, I. M. ; Harrath, A. ; Thornburg, Kent ; Barker, D. J P. / Sex Differences in birth size and intergenerational effects of intrauterine exposure to Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. In: American Journal of Human Biology. 2011 ; Vol. 23, No. 5. pp. 651-654.
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    AU - Aljarallah, J. S.

    AU - Osmond, C.

    AU - Alkharaz, S. M.

    AU - Alhazza, I. M.

    AU - Harrath, A.

    AU - Thornburg, Kent

    AU - Barker, D. J P

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