Madimenos, Felicia Chrisafo, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research on 'Lifestyle and Reproductive Effects on Bone Mineral Density in an Ecuadorian Forager-Horticulturalist Population,' supervised by Dr. James Josh Snodgrass
FELICIA C. MADIMENOS, then a student at University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, received funding in April 2009 to aid research on 'Lifestyle and Reproductive Effects on Bone Mineral Density in an Ecuadorian Forager-Horticulturalist Population,' supervised by Dr. James Josh Snodgrass. Bone mineral density (BMD) is the primary diagnostic parameter of bone health and a predictor of future fracture risk. The mechanisms and life history trade-offs affecting bone integrity evolved under conditions quite different from those experienced by industrialized populations, yet minimal data on bone health are available from non-Western, subsistence populations. Such data are particularly important because people in subsistence-based populations have dietary, reproductive, and activity patterns more like those of our evolutionary past. Using calcaneal ultrasound, this study presents the first available data on bone health among the Shuar, an indigenous Ecuadorian Amazonian population, and non-Shuar colonists (colonos) from the same area. Results show that among colonos, BMD is positively correlated with the consumption of fish and greens but not other food categories. Among Shuar, no such relationship is found but BMD is negatively associated with greater ownership of market goods. Further analyses considering the effects of reproductive history show that in both populations multiparity provides a protective effect on BMD but this protection is lost with increased duration of lactation per child (> 24 months). The most protective effect on bone health is realized when mothers breastfeed multiple children for shorter durations.
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
Preliminary abstract: Currently, many Amazonian populations are undergoing a period of rapid change in lifestyle through increased market exposure and market participation, including wage labor, surplus production, selling, and buying items. The social sciences emphasize that when populations undergo lifestyle transitions (i.e., changes to dietary, economic, and cultural activities), health, disease patterns, and body composition are affected. A common explanation points to changes in energetic inputs and outputs, while higher population density increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. However, hydration strategies, or how people meet their dietary water needs, may serve as dietary adaptations that balance hydration, pathogen exposure, and nutritional status. Furthermore, lifestyle transitions may create a mismatch between hydration strategies and the nutritional landscape. The proposed study will assess the relationships between hydration strategies and hydration, nutritional status, pathogen exposure, and immune activation, and evaluate how market participation is related to water consumption patterns among Tsimane' Amerindians in Lowland Bolivia. This study will expand our understanding of variation and consequences of hydration needs and contribute to literatures on nutritional anthropology, life history theory, and lifestyle transitions. Responses to lifestyle transitions are important to anthropology because they provide insight into both past and future trends of human variation in nutrition and health.
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.
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.
Martin, Melanie Ann, U. of California, Santa Barbara, CA - To aid research on 'Maternal Factors Influencing Variation in Infant Feeding Practices in a Natural Fertility Population,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gurven
MELANIE A. MARTIN, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, California, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Maternal Factors Influencing Variation in Infant Feeding Practices in a Natural Fertility Population,' supervised by Dr. Michael Gurven. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or longer promote optimal infant health and growth. Globally, however, many mothers introduce complementary foods and wean earlier than recommended. This study examined factors associated with variation in infant feeding practices in an indigenous population, the Tsimane of Bolivia. During 2012-2013, interviews and anthropometric measurements were collected from 147 Tsimane mothers and infants aged 0-36 months, with 47 mother-infant pairs visited repeatedly over eight months. Half of Tsimane infants were introduced to complementary foods by four months of age, although 75 percent were still breastfed at two years. On average, male infants were exclusively breastfed longer and weaned later than females. No other maternal, infant, or household factors measured influenced the duration of exclusive breastfeeding duration. Age at weaning, however, was increased by the number of family members over the age of 10, and decreased by a mother's subsequent pregnancy and total number of living offspring. Poor growth was evident in only two percent of infants aged 0-6 months, but increased markedly after twelve months. Earlier weaning and/or the quantity or quality of complementary foods may more significantly impact Tsimane infant growth and health outcomes than does early complementary feeding.
Rowe, Elizabeth Jane, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'The Role of the Progesterone Receptor in the Menstrual Cycle,' supervised by Dr. L. Christie Rockwell
ELIZABETH JANE ROWE, then a student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in May 2008, to aid research on 'The Role of the Progesterone Receptor in the Menstrual Cycle,' supervised by Dr. L. Christie Rockwell. Much of the work in Physical Anthropology related to variation in women's reproductive function has been heavily focused on evolutionary models to explain the responsiveness of ovarian steroid production to ecological conditions. Underlying functionally significant, genetic variation that also likely impacts reproductive phenotypes has seldom been investigated. This project addressed this problem by investigating the impact of a common, functionally significant variant of the progesterone receptor gene on uterine function and the menstrual cycle among women in the Philadelphia area. Women who carried the variant differed from women who did not with regard to menstrual cycle characteristics. Furthermore, the variant was found to modify the impact of life history and ecological variables on both uterine function and the menstrual cycle. These findings indicate that genetic variation should be considered in future models for women's reproduction in Physical Anthropology. Additionally, uterine function and menstrual cycle characteristics did not reflect ovarian hormone levels, but instead were significantly predicted by ecological variables that indicated energetic status. These findings, coupled with results of other work, indicate that the uterus responds directly to environmental cues, and therefore suggest that it plays an active role in the maternal decision to commit resources to gestation.
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.
Masterson, Erin Elizabeth, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Putting Teeth into the Developmental Origins Hypothesis: Early Childhood Ecology, Enamel Defects and Adolescent Growth,' supervised by Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Preliminary abstract: Like a window into the past, adult teeth may reflect early childhood ecology. Dental enamel on the permanent maxillary incisors calcifies incrementally during early childhood (0-5 years of age), is highly-sensitive to biological stress, and doesn't repair over the life course. Developmental defects in the enamel (DDE) are caused by metabolic disruption during development, including micronutrient deficiency, gastrointestinal disturbance, and bacterial and viral infections. According to developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) research findings and evolutionary theory, these factors may also influence chronic disease risk later in life. Bioarcheological findings have indicated an association exists between DDEs in the permanent dentition and increased morbidity and early mortality among skeletal remains, suggesting that dental enamel may be a retrospective marker of early childhood ecology. However, the association between DDEs and long-term health consequences has never been tested in a contemporary population. The purpose of the proposed project is to assess whether DDEs -- developed during the first five years of life -- is a marker of early childhood ecology and predictor of adolescent growth in a contemporary population. Based on evolutionary theory, we hypothesize that enamel defects mark a physiologically-stressful early childhood that predicts unhealthy growth in adolescence. We expect our study to provide the scientific community more confidence in interpretations of DDEs, and to introduce a new measure of early childhood ecology that may enable widespread study of the DOHaD and improve the sensitivity of these studies.
Sellen, Dr. Daniel William, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada - To aid workshop on 'Cross-Cultural Comparisons in Early Postnatal Care Practices,' 2007, Mbulu District, Tanzania, in collaboration with Dr. Crystal Lauren Patil
'Cross-Cultural Comparisons in Early Postnatal Care Practices'
November 25-28, 2008, Haydom Lutheran Hospital, Mbulu District, Tanzania
Organizers: Daniel Sellen (University of Toronto) and Crystal Patil (University of
Illinois - Chicago)
Twenty-five anthropologists, community development workers, nutritionists, nurses, and physicians from around the world came together at this workshop to discuss the cultural and health-related aspects of diversity in early postpartum care practices and maternal, neonatal, infant, and child health in ethnically diverse communities in East Africa. Collaborating
institutions included the host hospital and universities in Tanzania, Norway, Canada, and the United States. The workshop aimed to be innovative in its focus on the applied anthropology of early child care and on local issues in global context. Presentations, facilitated discussions, hospital rounds, and cultural tours facilitated structured academic exchange designed to develop new theory, methods, and indicators to document, describe, and compare key aspects of early child care practices that vary with socio-cultural, economic, ecological, and individual factors and are linked to health outcomes. A consensus on emerging practical and theoretical topics and current knowledge gaps was established and is being used as a basis for developing specific research collaborations in Tanzania among sub-groups of the participants.