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.
Thayer, Zaneta Marie, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa
ZANETA THAYER, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'Intergenerational Programming of Stress Reactivity: The Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa. Anthropologists have a long history of studying biological responses to environmental stress from diverse perspectives. Within our field the effects of maternal psychosocial stress on biology and health in the next generation is becoming a topic of increased interest. This research project evaluated the intergenerational effects of maternal stress experience among an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of pregnant women from Auckland, New Zealand. Women who had lower socioeconomic status and who experienced ethnic discrimination had higher evening cortisol in late pregnancy and gave birth to infants with elevated cortisol reactivity and altered gene regulation (methylation) profiles. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal social environment impacts maternal and offspring biology. Notably, the types of stress exposures that impacted cortisol in the present study are relatively novel from an evolutionary perspective. Thus the evolved capacity for an intergenerational transfer of information could be maladaptive in the contemporary ecology when activated in response to structural inequalities within society. Future research evaluating diverse sources of stress and a range of biological responses in offspring are necessary to clarify whether modifications in offspring biology reflect adaptation or biological impairment.
Abrams, Elizabeth T., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Variability in Birth Outcome following Malaria during Pregnancy,' supervised by Dr. A. Roberto Frisancho
ELIZABETH T. ABRAMS, while a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in September 2001 to aid research on variability in birth outcomes following malaria during pregnancy, under the supervision of Dr. A. Roberto Frisancho. Malaria infections during pregnancy are associated with a number of poor birth outcomes, including intrauterine growth retardation, preterm delivery, and fetal death. Previous researchers had identified malaria-induced immune responses and birth outcomes, but the immune response to malaria could not fully account for the variation in birth outcomes. Abrams focused on a second potential determinant of poor birth outcomes: maternal and fetal iron status. She examined umbilical-cord hemoglobin levels in 33 malaria-infected and 57 uninfected women delivering in Blantyre, Malawi, in relation to maternal hemoglobin levels, malaria status, neonatal inflammation, and birth outcome. Although, as expected, maternal hemoglobin levels were significantly decreased by malaria infection during pregnancy, there was no reduction in cord levels, nor was there any significant relationship between the two. Nevertheless, cord ferritin levels were elevated in the neonates of malaria-infected mothers in relation to increased parasitemia, suggesting fetal immune activation to maternal malaria. Increased cord ferritin was associated with significantly decreased birth weight and gestational length, although maternal and cord hemoglobin levels and malaria status had no effect on birth outcome. The markers of fetal hypoxia that were examined, including erythropoietin, cortisol, and corticotrophin-releasing hormone, were not altered in malaria-infected versus uninfected women. In sum, in this population, cord hemoglobin levels were buffered from the effects of maternal malaria. However, elevated cord ferritin levels suggested fetal immune activation to malaria, which appeared to influence birth outcomes.
Abrams, Elizabeth T., and Julienne N. Rutherford. 2011. Framing Postpartum Hemorrhage as a Consequence of Human Placental Biology: An Evolutionary and Comparative Perspective. American Anthropologist 113(3):417-430.
Abrams, Elizabeth T. and Elizabeth M. Miller. 2011. The Roles of the Immune System in Women's Reproduction: Evolutionary Constraints and Life History Trade-Offs. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 54:134-154.
Abrams, Elizabeth T., et al 2005. Malaria during Pregnancy and Fetal Haematological Status in Blantyre, Malawi. Malaria Journal 4(39):1-8.
Eisenberg, Daniel Thomas Abraham, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: A Longitudinal and Cross-population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher W. Kuzawa
DAN EISENBERG, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received a grant in May 2010 to research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: a Longitudinal and Cross-Population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa . Telomeres are DNA sequences at chromosome ends that shorten with age and are required for proper cell division. Telomere shortening is associated with diminished cell proliferation capacity, which is believed to be a cause of senescence. Given the importance of cell proliferation to blood telomere length (BTL), it has been hypothesized that BTL reflects previous immune system activation and indicates current immune function. Thus BTL could provide a new biomarker of life history allocations and of developmental exposures to infection. Contrary to the shortening of BTL that occurs with age, previous studies have shown that children of older fathers have longer telomeres. By analyzing BTL data from the Philippines, Eisenberg and colleagues showed for the first time that this happens across at least two generations: older fathers not only have offspring with longer telomeres, but their sons also have offspring with longer telomeres. Analyses of how early life infection and growth predicts later BTL are ongoing.
Eisenberg, Dan. 2012. Delayed Paternal Age of Reproduction in Humans is Associated with Longer Telomeres across Two Generations of Descendants. PNAS Early Edition (published online).
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.
Arps, Shahna L., Ohio State U., Columbus, OH - To aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews
SHAHNA L. ARPS, then a student at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a grant in October 2004 to aid research on 'Maternal Mortality and Morbidity among the Miskito of Eastern Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Douglas E. Crews. Fieldwork was conducted in Honduras (November 2004 - November 2005) to explore maternal health issues in Miskito communities along the Ibans lagoon in the department of Gracias a Dios. Focus groups, structured interviews, and health assessments provided data regarding the cultural, biological, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors that influence maternal morbidity and mortality. To investigate health among living women, reproductive histories and information on current health, household composition, and socioeconomic status were collected during initial interviews with 200 women. Follow- up interviews were conducted to investigate dietary intake, workload/activity, social support, decision-making (autonomy), episodes of illness, and health-seeking behavior. Verbal autopsies were also collected from family members to analyze causes and circumstances of maternal deaths in the region. Women reported 55 maternal deaths. Hemorrhage, usually due to prolonged labor or retained placenta, was the leading cause of death. Poverty, women's lack of autonomy, and inadequate access to health care interact in complex ways to produce compromised health and maternal mortality in Miskito communities. This research demonstrates the need for new maternal health initiatives in the region. It also contributes to an understanding of human adaptability and limits to adaptability in high-risk environments.
Escasa, Michelle Jickain, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Female Sociosexuality, Mate Preferences, and Sex Steroid Hormones of Lactating Women in Manila,' supervised by Dr. Peter B. Gray
MICHELLE J. ESCASA, then a student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, received a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Female Sociosexuality, Mate Preferences, and Sex Steroid Hormones of Lactating Women in Manila,' supervised by Dr. Peter B. Gray. This project investigates the influence of lactation on female sociosexuality and mate preferences in urban Manila, a population with long-term breastfeeding, low contraceptive use, and quick return to cycling. From an evolutionary perspective, female ancestors were likely spending more time pregnant and lactating rather than ovulating. Moreover, a majority of conceptions in natural fertility societies occurred in lactating, ovulating women. These considerations suggest that lactating women face important life history allocation trade-offs between mating and parenting effort that may be manifested in their sociosexual behavior and mate preferences. Breastfeeding (n=155) and control (n=105) women were recruited to provide a saliva sample (for testosterone and estradiol analyses) and complete a face and voice preference task to determine preferences for masculinity. All participants also completed a questionnaire that assessed sexual functioning, sociosexuality, and relationship satisfaction, along with demographic variables. Breastfeeding women report differences in commitment to their relationship, jealousy levels, sexual functioning, and preferences for high-pitched voices. Further analyses incorporate the age of the infant and the cycling status of participants. Cultural and life history factors will be discussed and will serve as a framework for the findings.
James, Paul E., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'The Disease Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado
PAUL E. JAMES, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on 'The Disease of Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado. What was an adaptive immune response to intestinal parasites in our agrarian past may underlie the current rise in childhood asthma among urban and acculturated populations. This research addressed the relationship between intestinal parasites and childhood asthma by examining the underlying immunological mechanisms, which these diseases share, within a transnational Mixtec population living in three distinct environments. Data collection included interviews, physiological measurements and biological sampling of induced sputum and stool from 196 Mixtec children aged 4 to 15 years living in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, urban Tijuana, Mexico and periurban California, USA. Preliminary analysis suggests that not just intestinal parasites but also other childhood infectious diseases may be protective against the development of childhood asthma. This may be the result of the general stimulation of a down regulatory effect of the interleukin-10 cytokine upon Immunoglobulin E mediated allergic inflammation. This supports the idea that a lag exists between biological adaptation and rapid ecological change, in this case due to urban migration, and that this theory is useful for linking biochemical processes to global patterns of disease such as the epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic disease.