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.
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.
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).
Guilfoyle, Meagan M., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'The Impact of Ramadan Fasting on Breast Milk Composition and Infant Growth in Rabat, Morocco,' supervised by Dr. Andrea Wiley
Preliminary abstract: Ramadan is a cultural practice that has potentially profound effects on human biology, particularly on nursing mothers and infants. During the month of Ramadan, nursing Muslim women around the world participate in a fast in which no food or water is consumed from sunrise to sunset. Little is known about how this fast influences breast milk composition or infant feeding practices, and, although infants are not subject to fasting, these changes could in turn affect infant growth, development and health. This study will employ a biocultural approach to investigate maternal milk nutrient and endocrine composition and infant growth during maternal fasting from food and water for approximately 13-14 hours daily over the course of the month of Ramadan in Rabat, Morocco. I hypothesize that maternal fasting from food and water for about 14 hours will result in increased milk cortisol concentrations and that increased cortisol will be associated with accelerated infant growth. I further hypothesize that this will take place independently of the nutritional quality of the milk, with maternal nutritional stores largely buffering the macronutrient content of the milk and, to a lesser extent, micronutrient content during maternal fasting. Studying milk composition and infant responses during Ramadan could elucidate adaptive responses of lactation under conditions of water insecurity (Wutich and Brewis 2014) and help answer critical questions within the field of lactational biology about maternal factors that influence inter- and intra-woman variation in milk volume and composition, particularly endocrine and metabolic components, and the mechanisms by which milk components mediate infant growth, development and health (Neville, et al. 2012).
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.
Patil, Dr. Crystal L., U. of Illinois, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'A Biocultural Examination of the Peripartum Period'
DR. CRYSTAL L. PATIL, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2008, to aid research on 'A Biocultural Examination of the Peripartum Period.' Fieldwork was carried out from May-August in 2009 and 2010, among subsistence agriculturalists living in north-central Tanzania. Using a mixed-methods ethnographically-informed protocol the project examined: 1) the patterning of the peripartum; and 2) nodes of decision-making around place of birth. The study compared narratives collected from women, traditional and biomedical health practitioners, health administrators and support staff, and community leaders, and observed births in the hospital. Sociopolitical, economic, and environmental conditions were discussed and themes emerging from these interviews were integrated into a community-level survey. Three villages, at various distances from the hospital were included in the survey. Targeted follow-up interviews were conducted to better understand nodes in the pathway of decision-making in birth. In addition to publications, these results will be integrated into policy briefs and presented to the community for use in local policy-making in hopes of reducing maternal mortality.
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.
Astorino, Claudia Marie, City U. of New York, Lehman College, New York, NY - To aid research on 'Does Human Sex Indicator Morphology in the Skull Co-vary With Age and Ancestry?,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson
CLAUDIA MARIE ASTORINO, then a student at City University of New York, Lehman College, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2013 to aid research on 'Does Human Sex Indicator Morphology in the Skull Co-vary with Age and Ancestry,' supervised by Dr. Eric Delson. The human skeleton exhibits sexual dimorphism, or differences in physical form between males and females of the same species. This dissertation project investigates how sex, age, and ancestry inform the shape and size of sexually dimorphic features of the skull in recent modern humans. The research phase supported by this grant enabled 3D laser scans to be collected from a large, documented collection of skulls from both domestic and international skeletal collections. Over 300 adults and 50 subadults were scanned at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History (Washington, D.C.), Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France), University of Coimbra (Portugal), University of Bologna (Italy), and the University of Dundee (Scotland). Differences among human groups defined by sex, age, and/or ancestry were investigated by placing curves of 3D points on the surface of the laser scans and comparing their positions among groups of specimens. This study will help to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the range of sexual dimorphism in the recent modern human skull.
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.