Keep an eye on fasting children

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CHILDREN who are fasting during Ramadan, especially for the first time, should be closely monitored by their parents and should receive all the essential nutrients through a well-balanced diet, say experts. The medical community is unanimous that children should not be ‘forced’ to fast but should rather be prepared by their parents gradually as fasting while not being medically fit may have serious consequences.
“Once a child reaches the age of puberty, he or she must observe fast, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Parents should start preparing and educating their children early so that it will be easier for them to fast during Ramadan,” said Dr Hilal Al Rashdi.
Parents should also reward and praise their children when they observe fast, Al Rashdi told, the Times of Oman reported.
Echoing similar view, Dr Ahmed Hamed Al Wahaibi, senior consultant in Family Medicine at the Ministry of Health, says that parents should prepare their children at an early age.
They should not be forced to fast but encouraged to practice fasting and then rewarded for their effort, Dr Al Wahaibi said.
“If they are fasting for the first time, they can start fasting gradually. For example, the parents can encourage the child to fast from Suhoor to noon. So after practicing for the first few days, the child can fast the whole day during Ramadan,” he said. In addition, parents should monitor their fasting children and if they see that the child is very exhausted and is feeling unwell, they should ask the child to break the fast immediately, added Dr Al Wahaibi.
It is also important that fasting children have a healthy diet, the expert said, advising parents to give them all the necessary nutrients including lots of fluid to keep them hydrated.
Dr A. Parthasarathi, specialist paediatrician and neonatologist at Badr Al Samaa Hospital, said that during Ramadan in summer, they get some cases of children suffering from exhaustion, headache or stomach discomfort. He noted that children below eight years of age are not recommended to fast and those above that age should be taught about the issues involved and they should break their fast if they are feeling unwell.
Parents should not force their children to fast and prepare them in a phased manner by asking them to fast for six hours until they are prepared, he said.

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