Howells, Michaela Emily, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'The Impact of Psychosocial Stress on Gestation Length and Pregnancy Outcomes in American Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Darna Dufour
MICHAELA E. HOWELLS, then a student at University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, was awarded funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Impact of Psychosocial Stress on Gestation Length and Pregnancy Outcomes in American Samoa,' supervised by Dr. Darna Dufour. The objective of this research is to determine the relationship between chronic maternal psychosocial stress on spontaneous abortion, gestation length, and neonate body size. In order to achieve this goal, the grantee conducted a biocultural, longitudinal, prospective study of pregnancy outcomes in 184 women experiencing significant shifts in cultural identity in American Samoa. Two interrelated indicators of psychosocial stress -- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody concentration and status incongruence -- were paired with monthly maternal interviews to assess the effects of stress on pregnancy outcomes. EBV antibody concentrations represent a broad, non-specific response to psychosocial stressors. Status incongruence is related to a woman's status within the community and arises when an individual is unable to resolve traditional and nontraditional markers of status. This study follows from their first prenatal care appointment through to their pregnancies natural conclusion and will help clarify the effects of psychosocial stress on pregnancy outcomes. Pregnancy outcomes will be assessed in terms of neonate size for gestation. Possible outcomes include spontaneous abortions, preterm births (? 36 weeks) and full-term births. This study aims to add to our knowledge of the factors associated with pregnancy loss, premature delivery, and infants born small-for-gestational-age in a non-western population of women.
Nelson, Dr. Robin Gair, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY - To aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica'
DR. ROBIN G. NELSON, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica.' This study explores the relationship between residential context, parental investment, and child health outcomes in Jamaica. It centers on an examination of the growth and development of children living in state-sponsored homes, and children who are living with biological family members. Ethnographic, anthropometric, and biometric data were collected from 125 children living in state-sponsored children's homes, and 119 children living with their biological family members in Manchester Parish. Follow-up data were collected from 70 of 125 children who were still living in childcare facilities. Preliminary analyses reveal statistically significant correlations between residence in a state-sponsored care setting and anthropometric health indicators. There are also statistically significant gendered differences in the health outcomes between girls and boys living in these state-sponsored homes. These findings parallel ethnographic data detailing highly variable and gendered childcare practices in these homes. Future analyses will compare anthropometric and biometric data of children living with biological kin, and that of their peers living in the children's homes. These findings aid in our understanding of the ways that variability in kin investment and care setting come to correlate to particular health outcomes. This study navigates the intersection of evolutionary theory and biocultural studies of child care practices and health outcomes.
Valeggia, Dr. Claudia R., CONICET, Formosa, Argentina - To aid research on 'Fertility Patterns and Energy Availability of Foraging Wichi in the Argentine Chaco'
DR. CLAUDIA R. VALEGGIA, CONICET, Formosa, Argentina, was awarding a grant in May 2003 to aid research on 'Fertility Patterns and Energy Availability of Foraging Wichi in the Argentine Chaco.' This study was part of the Chaco Area Reproductive Ecology Program, a long-term project that seeks to understand the interactions between environment, behavior, and reproductive biology of foraging groups in the Argentine Chaco. The aim of the study was to collect baseline data on how demographic and fertility patterns of Wichí people (n = 800) relate to changes in seasonal variation in energy availability and foraging practices. Preliminary results indicate a high fertility rate (8.6 births per woman), a relatively short inter-birth interval (average: 2.3 months 3.6) and a high infant mortality rate (46%). A birth seasonality effect was evident, with conceptions taking place between April and July. The Wichí of these communities were in good nutritional status, only 2% of adults (all women) were considered undernourished. Furthermore, there was a considerable percentage of overweight and obesity. As many as 55% of men and 54% of women were overweight (Body Mass Index > 25), whereas 17% of both men and women were obese (BMI >30). There were no apparent differences in energy availability across the annual cycle. However, there was considerable seasonal variation in the frequency and type of subsistence activities and in diet composition. A marked sexual division of activities was also evident and that seems to explain the differences in energy availability between women and men. Further analyses will explore the interaction between seasonality, division of labor, and fertility.
Barta, Dr. Jodi Lynn, U. of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada - To aid research on 'The Relationship Between Skin Pigmentation and Vitamin D Insufficiency in Northern Latitudes'
DR. JODI LYNN BARTA, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'The Relationship between Skin Pigmentation and Vitamin D Insufficiency in Northern Latitudes.' This project examined the effects that changes in season have on vitamin D concentrations in individuals with varying levels of melanin in their skin in order to clarify the relationship between constitutive pigmentation and vitamin D status in otherwise healthy young adults of diverse ancestry living in northern latitudes. Preliminary data collected show that those with higher levels of melanin in their skin are at consistently higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency, thus supporting the UVR hypothesis and highlighting the evolutionary significance of skin pigmentation as it relates to geographic origins and the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Given the profound effects that vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency have on the human body, it was surprising that mean vitamin D concentrations in all ancestry groups were below adequate (75 nmol/L) regardless of season, despite the fact that mean vitamin D intakes in both late summer (296.72 IU) and winter (281.54 IU) were above current recommended adequate intake for adults (200 IU/day). Further research is necessary to precisely determine the vitamin D requirements of individuals of diverse ancestry living in northern latitudes and address the need for higher vitamin D intakes through supplementation and/or improved food fortification strategies to meet requirements and improve overall public health.
Indriati, Dr. Etty, Gadjah Mada U., Indonesia; and Leonard, Dr. William, Northwestern U., IL - To aid collaborative research on 'Energetic Nutritional and Dental Health of Foragers Orang Rimba in the Sumatran Forest, Indonesia'
DR. ETTY INDRIATI, Gadjah Mada University, Jakarta, Indonesia, and DR. WILLIAM LEONARD, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, were awarded an International Collaborative Research Grant to aid collaborative research on 'Energetic Nutritional and Dental Health of Foragers Orang Rimba in the Sumatran Forest, Indonesia.' This research examined dietary consumption, energy expenditure, body size, and other health measures in 85 men and 115 women agriculturists from Ngilo-Ilo, East Java. The adults of this population are short and light (159.9 cm, 51.8kg for men; 147.7cm, 45.8kg for women), with little evidence of a secular trend when compared to data collected on other rural Javanese populations in the 1960-70s. In contrast, urban Javanese today are significantly taller and heavier than their rural counterparts( 164.24 cm, 62 kg in males; 155.02cm, 52 kg in females; Indriati, 2002).BMIs are low in the Ngilo-Ilo population (20.3 kglm2 for men; 20.5 kglm2 for women).Despite high levels of growth stunting and low BMIs, body fatness in this population falls within normal ranges. These findings suggest that the standard WHO BMI cut-offs for obesity are not appropriate for small-bodied populations of Indonesia. Despite evidence of chronic energy stress, measured RMRs did not significantly differ from those predicted using WHO norms, suggesting no increased metabolic efficiency. In contrast, it appears that chronic health problems are on the rise in this population as28%ofthe sample had elevated cholesterol, and one third was hypertensive.
Noback, Marlijn Lisanne, Eberhard Karls U., Tubingen, Germany - To aid research on 'Climate- and Diet-related Variation in Human Functional Cranial Components,' supervised by Dr. Katerina Harvati
MARLIJN NOBACK, then a student at Eberhard Karls University, Tubingen, Germany, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Climate- and Diet-Related Variation in Human Functional Cranial Components,' supervised by Dr. Katerina Harvati. This study seeks to elucidate the physiological basis of craniofacial variation and the selective forces driving modern human cranial geographic diversity. Funding enabled the CT scanning of 45 individual crania from three different collections based in Paris, London, and Tübingen. These scans form part of a larger database of over 330 CT scans, representing populations from different climatic and dietary regimes. With the use of the software package AVIZO and a high performance laptop, 3D models of functional facial components are developed from the CT scans. Analyses are currently undertaken and include studies of variation and co-variation of the cranial components and their relation to diet and climate. This project will enhance understanding of the biological processes underlying the evolution of modern human anatomy, adaptation and geographic diversity.
Valeggia, Dr. Claudia Rita, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Life History Transitions among the Toba of Argentina'
DR. CLAUDIA R. VALEGGIA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Life History Transitions among the Toba of Argentina.' The study is part of a five-year, longitudinal project that evaluates the interaction among biocultural variables underlying key life transitions in humans. The project takes place in an indigenous population in northern Argentina. Biological and ethnographic data are collected to evaluate the somatic, developmental, cultural, and hormonal correlates of three life history transitions: weaning, puberty, and menopause. This particular study focused on the hormonal changes associated with the peri-menopausal transition and on the association between infant growth trajectories and infectious disease. Preliminary results show differences between levels of ovarian hormones, FSHB, and adiponectin between pre- and post-menopausal women. Menopausal Toba women had higher levels of FSHB and adiponectin than menopausal non-indigenous women. Toba infants with reports of sickness had slower growth trajectories than infants with no reports of sickness. Fever, GI infections, bronchitis, and flu during first nine months were negatively correlated with length velocity. Additionally, fever, cold, and flu during the first three months were negatively correlated with weight velocity. Results from this research will contribute directly to issues of evolutionary anthropology, the biodemography of aging, and clinical medicine, as they relate specifically to patterns of child growth and women's aging.
Bekelman, Traci Allison, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Using the Protein Leverage Hypothesis to Understand Socioeconomic Variation in Diet and Body Size,' supervised by Dr. Darna Dufour
Preliminary abstract: The primary objective of the proposed research is to provide insights into the factors responsible for the larger body size of urban Latin American women of low- versus high-socioeconomic status (SES). To accomplish this we intend to focus on dietary factors, of which surprisingly little is known, and specifically to test hypotheses derived from the Protein Leverage Hypothesis, a theoretical model developed by Simpson and Raubenheimer. Guided by the Protein Leverage Hypothesis, this study will test an explanation for the inverse relationship between SES and body size: limited access to dietary protein in low-SES women leads to a lower proportion of protein in the diet which, in turn, drives higher energy intake. To accomplish the research objective, anthropometry and weighed food records will be collected from 134 urban women in low- and high-SES neighborhoods in San José, Costa Rica. We will also examine perceived economic barriers to protein access using structured interviews and the strategies women use to overcome those barriers using a Geographic Information System (GIS). This research will generate new knowledge about how biology, culture and the physical and social environments interact to influence energy intake and body size.