Crews, Dr. Douglas Earl, Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Frailty and Allostatic Load among Aging Japanese'
DR. DOUGLAS EARL CREWS, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'Frailty and Allostatic Load among Aging Japanese.' Residents of Sakiyama City were chosen for this study of how allostatic load and frailty are related to health and morbidity among elderly residents of a more traditional and isolated community. The study obtained sufficient data to examine allostatic load and frailty as correlates of morbidity, physiological function, fertility and aging in elderly Japanese samples living more traditional and less traditional life styles within Sakiyama City. Detailing cross-cultural variation in allostatic load and frailty enhances our interpretations of how biological aspects of senescence may structure health at the latest ages of human life. Determining allostatic load and frailty in an age-stratified sample of Japanese elders also aids in resolving the female-male health paradox, wherein elderly women frequently report poorer health than same-aged men, while same-age men suffer higher mortality. These data allow us to determine whether fertility significantly burdens women's health outcomes. By working directly with physicians engaged in providing health care to participants, the benefits of ongoing research on biomarkers of stress, function, and somatic abilities to clinical interventions and health maintenance setting is directly tested.
Gray, Dr. Peter Bard, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone'
DR. PETER B. GRAY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone.' What are the impacts of fatherhood on Jamaican men? The project addresses this wider question in several ways. Fathers of children aged approximately 18-24 months were asked about their paternal attitudes, relationship dynamics, sexual function, and health, enabling testing for effects of fatherhood on such outcomes as relationship quality and depression. The potential moderating effects of socioeconomic status on these changes are also addressed, since the variable resources available to men may also influence the quality of their partnerships and availability to meet paternal expectations. In a context of variable male parental involvement and many families with mixed parentage, paternal outcomes of biological and stepfathers are compared. Existing cross-cultural studies suggests that biological fathers tend to be more invested in their children, a proposition also tested here. Last, the project tests the hypothesis that biological fathers have lower testosterone levels than stepfathers. Altogether, findings from this study enhance an understanding of the changes fathers of young children undergo; the different experiences of biological and stepfathers; and one of the possible physiological mechanisms differentiating the experiences of biological and stepfathers. Since these areas are of interest and relevance not just in Jamaica, this project contributes to wider discussions of fatherhood.
Liebert, Melissa Ann, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Psychosocial Stress and Culture Change among Indigenous Amazonian Shuar: Integrating Developmental, Biological, and Cognitive Perspectives,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence S. Sugiyama
Preliminary abstract: Recent studies among indigenous populations suggest that psychosocial stress is an important pathway through which socioecological changes associated with market integration (MI) shape human biology. Surprisingly, however, little research has systematically investigated this topic. In particular, few studies have examined how factors associated with MI influence children's perceptions of the shifting cultural milieu and how these experiences become biologically embodied to impact stress, life history trade-offs, and health. Given that early life stress can induce enduring physiological dysregulation across multiple systems, research is greatly needed to capture the nuances of MI that affect developmental stress and long-term health. To address these issues, this project will integrate methods from biological and cognitive anthropology with rich ethnographic data on culture change and perceptions of lifestyle success in order to elucidate how MI affects stress physiology and life history patterns among Indigenous Shuar children of Amazonian Ecuador. This study will examine these relationships among 200 children and adolescents from two communities experiencing varying degrees of MI by measuring two biomarker indices of psychosocial stress [diurnal cortisol profiles and allostatic load (including measures of cortisol, Epstein-Barr virus antibodies, C-reactive protein, and growth)], cognitive models of lifestyle success, and lifestyle data indicative of MI exposure.
Robins, Tara C., U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Social Change, Parasite Exposure, and Autoimmunity among Shuar Forager- Horticulturalists of Amazonia: An Evolutionary Medicine Approach,' supervised by Dr. J. Josh Snodgrass
Preliminary abstract: Exposure to parasites is hypothesized to decrease the risk of autoimmune disorders by regulating immune activity. Termed the Hygiene Hypothesis, this suggests that exposure to certain microbes helps organize immune function and prevents immune response to harmless stimuli. The Disappearing Microbiota Hypothesis takes this a step further, suggesting that recent changes in human ecology are altering the composition of our intestinal bacteria, thereby reducing vital immune programming. Existing research suffers from two weaknesses. First, almost all studies of these relationships have been conducted in Western clinical settings among populations with low infection rates, limiting our knowledge of the contextual factors that affect immune regulation. Second, there is very little anthropological research that explores the co-evolutionary relationship between humans and microbes. The proposed study uses evolutionary medicine and biocultural frameworks to further test these hypotheses among the indigenous Shuar forager-horticulturalists of Ecuador, who are currently experiencing rapid social change resulting in pronounced intra-population variation in parasite exposure. Avoidance behaviors, intestinal parasite composition, and autoimmune disease prevalence will be examined among Shuar at different levels of market integration. This project is the first population-based study to examine relationships between microbe exposure and autoimmunity among an indigenous population transitioning to a market-based economy.
Dancause, Dr. Kelsey N., U. of Quebec, Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu'
Preliminary abstract: Psychosocial stress during pregnancy affects not only the mother, but also her child. At high levels, maternal stress hormones can cross the placenta and affect fetal development. Prenatal stress has been associated with poor birth outcomes (such as low birthweight and preterm birth) and long-term effects such as obesity. Unfortunately, nearly all studies of prenatal stress are in industrialized nations. The effects of prenatal stress seen in industrialized countries likely cannot be generalized to women experiencing not only high levels of stress during pregnancy, but also potential undernutrition and heavy infectious disease burdens that could interact with and exacerbate the effects of prenatal stress. We need more data on the effects of prenatal stress from low- and middle-income and rapidly modernizing countries. Furthermore, we need to use common and validated surveys to collect these data, to allow comparison to the existing literature from other countries. Our OBJECTIVE is to address this gap in knowledge in Vanuatu, a low-middle-income country in the South Pacific where we have conducted anthropological research on population health since 2007. We will rely on commonly used and validated surveys to measure mothers' psychosocial stress and related mental health measures during pregnancy. We will analyze relationships between maternal psychosocial stress and infants' birth outcomes, such as their birth weight and gestational age. This study will allow us to identify how the relationships between prenatal stress and birth outcomes in developing countries might differ from patterns seen in industrialized nations, and will promote more detailed studies in other developing countries.
Greksa, Dr. Lawrence P., Case Western Reserve U., Cleveland, OH - To aid research on 'Demography of a Natural Fertility Population Undergoing Social Change'
DR. LAWRENCE P.GREKSA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on 'Demography of a Natural Fertility Population Undergoing Social Change.' The purpose of this study was to construct a data set which would facilitate examination of the demographic structure and fertility patterns, and particularly the impact of a transition away from farming to wage labor, in the fourth largest Old Order Amish settlement centered in Geauga County, Ohio. Most Amish settlements publish directories on a regular basis which contain substantial demographic information. In order to provide greater time-depth than previously available, data were combined from five directories for the Geauga Settlement spanning the period from 1973 to 2001, providing data on a total of 2729 families. In order to provide a larger context for evaluating Old Order Amish fertility, data on two related Anabaptist groups (Amish Mennonites and New Order Amish) -- both of which tend to be somewhat less conservative than the Old Order Amish -- were also compiled. In particular, the 2000 directory for Amish Mennonites provided data on 4188 families and the 1999 New Order Amish directory provided data on 1875 families. Preliminary analyses of the Old Order Amish data set suggest that the transition away from farming is associated with a small decrease in fertility.
Madimenos, Dr. Felicia, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Shuar Communities Through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research,' 2013, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador
DR. FELICIA MADIMENOS, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in February 2013 to aid 'Engaging Shuar Communities through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research in Morona-Santiago, Ecuador.' Misinformation regarding the causes and prevention of illness/disease and miscommunication between local health care providers and patients present hurdles for the anthropologist/health researcher working in a non-Western context. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance for anthropologists to consciously bridge communication barriers by creating ample time for dialog with the participant and translating health data into an accessible form. The Engaged Anthropology Grant provided an opportunity to reconsider how the grantee conducts health research with indigenous Amazonian Shuar communities in Ecuador and achieved the following goals: 1) to develop family health days for participants permitting more individualized discussions of health (these meetings also created a platform for dissemination of population-specific health materials); 2) to facilitate a community-level workshop led by a Shuar colleague/health promoter that focused on family planning options; and 3) to participate in community-wide presentations that highlighted common health issues among Shuar and introduced potential health resources in the participants' own community. These platforms emphasize that in order for health information to remain relevant over the long-term, anthropologists must develop opportunities that empower communities by making accessible the knowledge and information necessary for participants to participate in, and affect informed decisions about their health.
Rosinger, Asher Yoel, U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Hydration Strategies, Nutrition, and Health During a Lifestyle Transition in the Bolivian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Susan Tanner
ASHER Y. ROSINGER, then a student at University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Hydration Strategies, Nutrition, and Health during a Lifestyle Transition in the Bolivian Amazon,' supervised by Dr. Susan Tanner. Currently, many Amazonian populations are undergoing a period of rapid change in lifestyle through increased market participation and dietary changes, yet the search for clean water remains a critical problem facing many of these populations. The social sciences emphasize that when populations undergo lifestyle transitions, health, disease patterns, and body composition are affected. Lifestyle transitions may create a mismatch between hydration strategies and the nutritional landscape. This research found that Tsimane' have flexible hydration strategies that rely on their environment for water. Increased water intake from foods was associated with a decreased risk of diarrheal illness among adults, which may represent a nutritional adaptation to an environment with limited access to clean water. Tsimane' who lived in a market integrated community were significantly more dehydrated than Tsimane' living in a traditional community. These findings contribute to human biology theory by suggesting that lifestyle transitions may create conditions that increase vulnerability to dehydration among rural populations. Additionally, lactating women were significantly more dehydrated than non-lactating women controlling for environmental and lifestyle factors. This work illustrates the nutritional challenges lactating women face in stressful physical environments and raises evolutionary questions dealing with maternal buffering during chronic dehydration.
Rosinger, Asher. 2014. Water from Fruit or the River? Examining Hydration Strategies and Gastrointestinal Illness among Tsimane' Adults in the Bolivan Amazon. Public Health Nutrition. (Published Online, DOI 10.1017/s1368980014002158)
Rosinger, Asher. 2014. Dehydration among Lactating Mothers in the Amazon: A Neglected Problem. American Journal of Human Biology. (Published Online.DOI 10.1002/ajhb.22672)
DeCaro, Jason A., Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Social Ecology of Childhood Stress: Reactivity and Family Function in North Central Georgia, U.S.A.' supervised by Dr. Carol M. Worthman
JASON A. DECARO, while a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded a grant in November 2001 to aid research on the social ecology of childhood stress in north-central Georgia, U.S.A., under the supervision of Dr. Carol M. Worthman. DeCaro's research was designed to evaluate whether children's reactivity (physiological response to stress or arousal) during the transition from preschool to kindergarten was related to their parents' economic security; whether the 'routinization' of family life and stability in the social ecology of the home predicted children's reactivity during this transition; and whether the stability of children's social environment and their reactivity predicted functional outcomes. Ethnographic interviews with parents in forty-five metropolitan Atlanta families focused on work, finances, economic security, time management, and school and neighborhood choices and satisfaction. Prior to and following the transition into kindergarten, DeCaro collected saliva samples from children and parents three times a day for seven days, in order to test for levels of cortisol, a hormone of physiologic arousal. He also monitored children's heart rates during a puppet-based psychobehavioral interview. Parents were asked to track on hand computers their and their children moods, contexts, and experiences for seven days. Questionnaires covered children's behavioral and somatic symptomatology and preschool educational outcomes. Preliminary analysis suggested that cardiovascular response during a mild social challenge predicted the density of parents' schedules but that mothers' and fathers' types of 'busyness' had different effects on household ecology and on children's responses to experience. The study was expected to provide insights into the cultural construction of the 'work' of the family, which profoundly affects both the actual form and the perception of family life by family members and thus what precisely is 'stressful' about it.
DeCaro, Jason A. and Carol M. Worthman. 2006 Cultural Models, Parent Behavior, and Young Child Experience in Working American Families. Parenting: Science and Practice 7(2): 177-203.