Wiley, Dr. Andrea S., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Milk Consumption and Child Growth in Pune, India: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. ANDREA S. WILEY, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded funding in October 2009, to aid research on 'Milk Consumption and Child Growth in Pune, India: A Biocultural Investigation.' The relationship between milk intake (cow or water buffalo), growth, and levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-I) was investigated in a cohort of approximately 175 rural and urban children from Pune (Maharastra) India. India is the world's largest milk producer and consumption has increased with gains in income and domestic production. Results of previous studies of milk intake and growth have been inconsistent, and there are no longitudinal studies tracking milk consumption, IGF-I and growth across childhood. Milk contains IGF-I, serum IGF-I levels increase after milk consumption, and IGF-I has been positively correlated with both milk intake and height. The cohort has detailed maternal data on diet during pregnancy, and growth and dietary data from birth to 2 years and IGF-I at birth and at 2 years. In this study children were seen twice at age 5-6 years, six months apart. At each visit a complete dietary and health questionnaire was administered, including detailed questions on milk and dairy intake. They were assessed anthropometrically and a blood sample was taken to measure IGF-I. Interviews with caretakers, Allopathic, and Ayurvedic practioners, and reviews of popular media were undertaken to gain an understanding of perceived relationships between milk consumption and child growth/health.
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.
Klein, Laura Danielle, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Impacts of Maternal Disease Ecology on Milk Immunofactors and Infant Immune System Development,' supervised by Dr. Katherine J. Hinde
Preliminary abstract: Mothers' milk provides crucial immunological protection to the infant during early life. However, little is known about how the immune molecules that are present in milk vary among women living in vastly different nutritional, disease, and cultural ecologies. This project will use a longitudinal study in a population of small-scale agriculturalists at the Mogielica Human Ecology Study Site in southern Poland to investigate how aspects of the local environment, including diet and disease exposure, relate to the variation in composition of immune factors in breast milk within a population. This project will also examine how variation in mothers' milk might influence infant immune system development by taking advantage of a regularly schedule vaccine that mimics a natural immune challenge.
Leidy Sievert, Dr. Lynnette, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Do Women Who Think They Know Really Know? Validating Signals of Ovulation'
DR. LYNNETTE LEIDY SIEVERT, of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, received funding in November 2002 to aid research on signals of ovulation in women who believe they know when they ovulate. Sievert tested whether or not women who think they know when they ovulate really do know, by assessing the concordance between perceived signals of ovulation and an elevated level of urinary LH, a biological indicator of ovulation. Participants were ages 18 to 46, had regular menstrual periods, were using no form of hormonal contraception, and believed they knew when they ovulated. Fifty-three women began the study. Signals of ovulation reported at initial interview included cervical discharge (68%), abdominal pain (64%), increased libido (30%), changes in mood or energy (25%), basal body temperature (17%), and other, infrequently reported symptoms (45%). Signal reporting varied in relation to smoking habits, body mass index, and health status. Thirty-six women provided a total of 87 urine specimens for LH testing. Thirty-seven of the specimens tested positive for an LH surge, for a concordance rate of 43%. Using the first tested cycle from the 36 women who provided urine specimens, 13 demonstrated an LH surge, for a concordance rate of 36%. The mean level of accuracy among the 15 women who contributed three to six urine specimens was 49%. It appeared, then, that between one-third and one-half of women who thought they knew when they ovulated were correct.
Froehle, Andrew William, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and Basal Metabolic Rate in Postmenopausal Women,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Schoeninger
ANDREW WILLIAM FROEHLE, then a student at University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, California, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and Basal Metabolic Rate in postmenopausal Women,' supervised by Dr. Margaret J. Schoeninger. The project investigated the relationship between age, exercise and basal metabolic rate (BMR) in postmenopausal women, comparing two subgroups: 'active' (>5 hours exercise/week) and 'training' (sedentary at baseline, completed four-month exercise program). Across the entire sample, BMR correlated significantly with fat free mass (FFM; P<0.001, R=0.862) and physical activity level (PAL; P=0.004, R=0.542), but not with age or maximal aerobic capacity (VO2MAX). At baseline, subgroups differed significantly for BMR (P=0.005) and VO2MAX (P=0.006); active women were also 4.9 kg heavier (FFM) than sedentary women (not significant: P=0.077). Within the active group, no variables changed significantly over the study period. Meanwhile, the training sample exhibited significant increases over baseline in VO2MAX (P=0.015) and BMR (P=0.002), despite no change in FFM (P=0.952). Controlling for effects of the covariate FFM, subgroups differed significantly for BMR at baseline (P=0.007), but not at the end of the study (P=0.089). Results suggest that in this population, both short- and long-term exercise associate similarly with elevations in BMR above sedentary levels. Contrary to some research, this may not be tied to increased FFM. These results have implications for preventative exercise prescription against age-related health risks, and will help refine models of metabolic physiology in active postmenopausal women.
Froehle, Andrew W., S.R. Hopkins, L Natarajan, and M.J. Schoeninger. 2013. Moderate to High Levels of Exercise are Associated with Higher Resting Energy Expenditure in Community-dwelling Postmenopausal Women. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 38(11):1147-1153.
Wander, Katherine Susan, U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Immunocompetence and the Hygiene Hypothesis,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell-Duncan
KATHERINE S. WANDER, then a student at University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, received funding in October 2009 to aid research on 'Immunocompetence and the Hygiene Hypothesis,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Shell-Duncan. Extensive research in allergy epidemiology has demonstrated that early exposure to infectious agents is associated with lower risk of allergic disease. An evolutionary perspective suggests that such early exposure may affect not only pathological immune responses to allergens, but also healthy immune responses to pathogens as a developmental adaptation, tailoring immune responses to the local infectious disease ecology. To evaluate this hypothesis, this project evaluated associations between early life infectious disease exposure and: 1) allergic disease; and 2) delayed-type hypersensitivity to Candin (an immune response to pathogen antigen, indicating immunocompetence). Consistent with finding in the US and Europe, large family size was associated with lower risk of diagnosed allergic disease. Consistent with the hypothesized developmental adaptation in immune system development, large family size, hospitalization during infancy with an infectious disease, and BCG vaccination scar were positively associated with immunocompetence (delayed-type hypersensitivity to Candin). These results suggest that not only do early infections discourage the pathological immune responses that result in allergy, they also promote healthy immune responses to pathogens, reflecting adaptive plasticity in immune system development.
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.
Howells, Dr. Michaela, U. of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC - To aid engaged activities on 'Promoting Dialog Between Health Care Providers and Pregnant Women on American Samoa,' 2015, American Samoa
Preliminary abstract: The aim of this research is to develop a tiered, community level approach to engagement that emphasizes a tailored prenatal care educational outreach program for health care providers, nursing students, village leaders, and mothers on the American Samoa island of Tutuila. This project will be conducted from June to August 2015. There are four objectives to this project. Objective 1: Provide educational workshops to maternal health care workers in American Samoa. Objective 2: Provide prenatal care educational workshops at six villages across the island. Objective 3: Conduct prenatal care outreach in nursing training courses on American Samoa. Objective 4: Physically disseminate copies of my Wenner Gren funded dissertation. Through workshops, and the dissemination of findings from this research I will be able to strengthen the connection between the prenatal care needs of Samoan women and the medical community that serves them. This will result in a lasting dialog that will extend the legacy of this research and benefit the local community.
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.