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October 5, 2005

Fasting and Medical Issues During Ramadan

JAMA. 2005;294(13):1618. doi:10.1001/jama.294.13.1618-a

To the Editor: There are estimated to be between 1 million and 3 million Muslims living in the United States,1 and most will participate in ritual daily fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, which in 2005 starts on October 3 and ends on November 2. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown, for approximately 13 hours. The fast is broken after the sun sets, with a meal called iftar. Children and individuals whose health may be harmed by fasting are exempt from fasting, according to the Qur’an. In addition, Muslims unable to fast during Ramadan may fast at other times of the year to compensate. Physicians should be aware of Ramadan and determine fasting practices among their Muslim patients to detect potential complications arising from this practice.

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