Correlation between childhood episodes of stress and long bone-ratios in samples of medieval skeletons - using linear enamel hypoplasia as proxy
Keywords:Early childhood stress, Linear enamel hypoplasia, Catch-up growth, Anthropometrics, Body proportions, Danish medieval cemeteries
Background: Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) in the canines is used as an indicator of ill health in early childhood. LEH is assumed to be an indicator of catch-up growth in archeological material. Previous research indicated that certain body proportions were altered due to catch-up growth during childhood.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess whether catch-up growth during childhood affects the long bone ratios of the arms and legs of adults.
Sample and Methods: Positive or negative scores for LEH in the four canines and anthropometric measurements of humerus, radius, femur, and tibia were obtained for 67 skeletons from two Danish medieval cemeteries in Nordby (Jutland) and Refshale (Lolland). Age and sex was estimated to see if any uneven distribution was present. The data was processed using the St. Nicolas house analysis, t-tests, univariate ANOVA and Kaplan-Meier survival analyses.
Results: The St. Nicolas house analysis showed no correlation between hypoplasia score and anthropometric measurements. No statistically significant difference was found between the long bone ratios of the arms and legs in adults with and without LEH.
Conclusion: Contrary to earlier research on body proportions in Medieval Denmark this study showed no significant difference in the long bone ratios of arms and legs associated with LEH. It did, however, find an alteration of femur and tibia length associated with hypoplasia. The findings indicate that males and females react differently to physiological stress in childhood.
Aßmann, C./Hermanussen, M. (2013a). Modeling determinants of growth: evidence for a community-based target in height? Pediatric research 74 (1), 88–95.
Bhutta, Z. A./Berkley, J. A./Bandsma, R. H. J./Kerac, M./Trehan, I./Briend, A. (2017). Severe childhood malnutrition. Nature Reviews. Disease Primers 3, 17067. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrdp.2017.67.
Boeker, S./Hermanussen, M./Scheffler, C.(2021). Dental age is an independent marker of biological age. Human Biology and Public Health. Human Biology and Public Health 3.https://doi.org/10.52905/hbph2021.3.24.
Bogin, B. (2021). Patterns of human growth. Cambridge, United Kingdom/New York, NY/Port Melbourne, Australia/New Delhi, India/Singapore, Cambridge University Press.
Boldsen, J. L. (1998). Body proportions in a medieval village population: effects of early childhood episodes of ill health. Annals of Human Biology 25 (4), 309–317.
Boldsen, J. L. (2007). Early childhood stress and adult age mortality--a study of dental enamel hypoplasia in the medieval Danish village of Tirup. American journal of physical anthropology 132 (1), 59–66. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20467.
Groth, D./Scheffler, C./Hermanussen, M. (2019). Body height in stunted Indonesian children depends directly on parental education and not via a nutrition mediated pathway - Evidence from tracing association chains by St. Nicolas House Analysis. Anthropologischer Anzeiger 76 (5), 445–451. https://doi.org/10.1127/anthranz/2019/1027.
Hermanussen, M. (Ed.) (2013). Auxology: studying human growth and development: 89 tables. Stuttgart, Schweizerbart Science Publ.
Hermanussen, M./Aßmann, Ch./Groth, D. (2021). Chain Reversion for Detecting Associations in Interacting Variables—St. Nicolas House Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (4). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041741.
Hermanussen, M./Scheffler, Ch. (2016). Stature signals status: The association of stature, status and perceived dominance - a thought experiment. Anthropologischer Anzeiger 73 (4), 265–274. https://doi.org/10.1127/anthranz/2016/0698.
Jørkov, M. L. S. (2015). Stature in 19th and early 20th century Copenhagen. A comparative study based on skeletal remains. Economics & Human Biology 19, 13–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2015.07.002.
Knussmann, R. (1988). Anthropologie: Handbuch der vergleichenden Biologie des Menschen. Fischer.
Lolland-Falster Museum (2020). Archive material 2020.
Lynnerup, N./Qvist, M./Homøe, P. (2000). Mellemørebetændelse. Hikuin 27 (27), 287. Available online at https://tidsskrift.dk/Hikuin/article/view/111692.
Marchewka, J./Skrzat, J./Wróbel, A. (2014). Analysis of the enamel hypoplasia using micro-CT scanner versus classical method. Anthropologischer Anzeiger 71 (4), 391–402.
McLaughlin, C./Schutze, R./Henley, D./Pennell, C./Straker, L./Smith, A. (2021). Prenatal and childhood stress exposure and the sex specific response to psychosocial stress in adulthood. Psychoneuroendocrinology 125, 105109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105109.
Milner, G. R./Boldsen, J. L. (2012). Transition analysis: a validation study with known-age modern American skeletons. American journal of physical anthropology 148 (1), 98–110. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22047.
Tanner, J. M. (1986). Growth as a Target-Seeking Function. In: F. Falkner/J. M. Tanner (Eds.). Human Growth: A Comprehensive Treatise Volume 1 Developmental Biology Prenatal Growth. Boston, MA, Springer US, 167–179.
Tarp, P. (2017). Skeletal age estimation. PhD. Odense, University of Southern Denmark.
White, T. D./Folkens, P. A. (2005). The human bone manual. Elsevier.
Wit, C. C. de/Sas, Theo C. J./Wit, J. M./Cutfield, W. S. (2013). Patterns of catch-up growth. The Journal of pediatrics 162 (2), 415–420. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.10.014.
Wit, J.-M./Boersma, B. (2002). Catch-up growth: definition, mechanisms, and models. Journal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism : JPEM 15 Suppl 5, 1229–1241. Available online at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12510974/.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Cecilie Mattsson
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.