Correlation between childhood episodes of stress and long bone-ratios in samples of medieval skeletons - using linear enamel hypoplasia as proxy
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.
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