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.
Gray, Dr. Peter Bard, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone'
DR. PETER B. GRAY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone.' What are the impacts of fatherhood on Jamaican men? The project addresses this wider question in several ways. Fathers of children aged approximately 18-24 months were asked about their paternal attitudes, relationship dynamics, sexual function, and health, enabling testing for effects of fatherhood on such outcomes as relationship quality and depression. The potential moderating effects of socioeconomic status on these changes are also addressed, since the variable resources available to men may also influence the quality of their partnerships and availability to meet paternal expectations. In a context of variable male parental involvement and many families with mixed parentage, paternal outcomes of biological and stepfathers are compared. Existing cross-cultural studies suggests that biological fathers tend to be more invested in their children, a proposition also tested here. Last, the project tests the hypothesis that biological fathers have lower testosterone levels than stepfathers. Altogether, findings from this study enhance an understanding of the changes fathers of young children undergo; the different experiences of biological and stepfathers; and one of the possible physiological mechanisms differentiating the experiences of biological and stepfathers. Since these areas are of interest and relevance not just in Jamaica, this project contributes to wider discussions of fatherhood.
Dancause, Dr. Kelsey N., U. of Quebec, Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu'
Preliminary abstract: Psychosocial stress during pregnancy affects not only the mother, but also her child. At high levels, maternal stress hormones can cross the placenta and affect fetal development. Prenatal stress has been associated with poor birth outcomes (such as low birthweight and preterm birth) and long-term effects such as obesity. Unfortunately, nearly all studies of prenatal stress are in industrialized nations. The effects of prenatal stress seen in industrialized countries likely cannot be generalized to women experiencing not only high levels of stress during pregnancy, but also potential undernutrition and heavy infectious disease burdens that could interact with and exacerbate the effects of prenatal stress. We need more data on the effects of prenatal stress from low- and middle-income and rapidly modernizing countries. Furthermore, we need to use common and validated surveys to collect these data, to allow comparison to the existing literature from other countries. Our OBJECTIVE is to address this gap in knowledge in Vanuatu, a low-middle-income country in the South Pacific where we have conducted anthropological research on population health since 2007. We will rely on commonly used and validated surveys to measure mothers' psychosocial stress and related mental health measures during pregnancy. We will analyze relationships between maternal psychosocial stress and infants' birth outcomes, such as their birth weight and gestational age. This study will allow us to identify how the relationships between prenatal stress and birth outcomes in developing countries might differ from patterns seen in industrialized nations, and will promote more detailed studies in other developing countries.
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.
DeCaro, Dr. Jason A., U. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. JASON A. DeCARO, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was awarded funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation.' Rising global obesity rates, and the historically limited effectiveness of behavioral interventions in addressing them, motivate the search for new understandings of biocultural and psychosocial determinants of physical activity. Physical activity occurs as a constituent of broader daily routines that are culturally constructed, complexly motivated, and socially constrained. Hence, daily routines may be viewed as a mechanism through which culture is progressively embodied across the life course, with body size and composition among the outcomes. In West Alabama, interviews, detailed daily activity diaries, 24-hour 5-day actigraphy (accelerometry), and BMI/body composition measurements were undertaken with 37 Mexican/Mexican-American young adults, including both recent non-student immigrants and college students. High agreement across subgroups regarding ideals for leisure-time physical activity intersect with profound intergroup and gender variation in beliefs and practices regarding the integration of physical activity into daily life. Further, the social context of physical activity moderates its relation to body size and composition. By combining biological, cultural, and behavioral data, it is possible to open new windows into embodiment as a biocultural process.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Return to School Accompanied by Changing Associations between Family Ecology and Cortisol. Developmental Psychobiology 50(2):183-195.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Culture and the Socialization of Child Cardiovascular Regulation at School Entry in the US. American Journal of Human Biology. 20(5):572-583.
De Caro, Jason. 2011. Changing Family Routines at Kindergarten Entry Predict Biomarkers of Parental Stress. International Journal of Behavioral Development 35(5):441-448.
DeCaro, Jason. 2012. Investigating the Social Ecology of Daily Experience Using Computerized Structured Diaries: Physical Activity among Mexican American Young Adults. Field Methods 24(3):328-347.
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).
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.