Meagan M Guilfoyle

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Indiana U., Bloomington

Grant number

Gr. 9232

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

Guilfoyle, Meagan M., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'The Impact of Ramadan Fasting on Breast Milk Composition and Infant Growth in Rabat, Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Andrea Wiley

Ramadan is a cultural practice that has potentially profound effects on human biology, particularly on nursing mothers and infants. During the month of Ramadan, nursing Muslim women around the world participate in a fast in which no food or water is consumed from sunrise to sunset. Little is known about how this fast influences breast milk composition or infant feeding practices, and, although infants are not subject to fasting, these changes could in turn affect infant growth, development and health. This study will employ a biocultural approach to investigate maternal milk nutrient and endocrine composition and infant growth during maternal fasting from food and water for approximately 13-14 hours daily over the course of the month of Ramadan in Rabat, Morocco. I hypothesize that maternal fasting from food and water for about 14 hours will result in increased milk cortisol concentrations and that increased cortisol will be associated with accelerated infant growth. I further hypothesize that this will take place independently of the nutritional quality of the milk, with maternal nutritional stores largely buffering the macronutrient content of the milk and, to a lesser extent, micronutrient content during maternal fasting. Studying milk composition and infant responses during Ramadan could elucidate adaptive responses of lactation under conditions of water insecurity (Wutich and Brewis 2014) and help answer critical questions within the field of lactational biology about maternal factors that influence inter- and intra-woman variation in milk volume and composition, particularly endocrine and metabolic components, and the mechanisms by which milk components mediate infant growth, development and health (Neville, et al. 2012).