Brooklyn hospital shows that Yom Kippur fast can trigger labor

The rate of birth this week at a Brooklyn hospital, as well as a 23-year Israeli study, show that fasting on Yom Kippur can trigger early labor. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn delivered an unusually high number of Jewish babies last weekend after expecting mothers went into labor that may have been triggered by fasting on Yom Kippur. This phenomenon is backed by research released in September showing that fasting can trigger labor.

The study looked at 725 deliveries in Israel on Yom Kippur over a period of 23 years, and found that Jewish women were twice as likely to have their babies early, in some cases pre-term. Although many doctors advise pregnant women not to fast on Yom Kippur, many expecting women still refrain from some eating or drinking on that day.

“We found that during the Day of Atonement, Jews had twice as many preterm deliveries. And I’m not talking about one year, I’m speaking about the whole study period,” said Prof. Eyal Sheiner, leader of the study and an obstetrician and gynecologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, according to the Times of Israel.

“It’s normal [that] fasting should cause the labor,” said Jacob Green, whose wife gave birth at Maimonides to a baby girl on Monday, the New York Daily News reported. “When I came in last time, two weeks before Passover, three and a half years ago, the ward was empty,” he said.

But some labors can be triggered too early. Babies born prematurely can suffer from complications and health issues. The study at Soroka is “the first evidence-based study to support our recommendation [to pregnant women] not to fast on Yom Kippur,” Sheiner said.

Posted on October 7, 2014 .