Cribra orbitalia as a potential indicator of childhood stress: Evidence from paleopathology, stable C, N, and O isotopes, and trace element concentrations in children from a 17th-18th century cemetery in Jekabpils, Latvia
Number of Authors: 9
2016 (English)In: Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, ISSN 0946-672X, E-ISSN 1878-3252, Vol. 38, 131-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Cribra orbitalia (CO), or porotic hyperostosis (PH) of the orbital roof, is one of the most common pathological conditions found in archaeological subadult skeletal remains. Reaching frequencies higher than 50% in many prehistoric samples, CO has been generally attributed to a variety of factors including malnutrition (e.g., megaloblastic anemia) and parasitism. In this study, we tested the relationship between CO, trace element concentrations, and stable isotope values (delta C-13, delta N-15, delta O-18) in subadult skeletons from a 17th to 18th century cemetery in the historic town of Jekabpils, Latvia. A total of 28 subadults were examined, seven of which (25%) showed evidence of CO. Bioarchaeological evidence indicated high mortality for children in this cemetery: half of the burials were subadults under the age of 14, while a third were under the age of four. Life expectancy at birth was estimated to have been only 21.6 years. Trace element concentrations measured by Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) showed no relationship between presence or absence of CO and levels of manganese, zinc, strontium, barium, copper, cadmium, or lead in the bones (p>0.05). However, a significant correlation (p<0.05) was found between the presence of CO and decreased levels of iron. The correlations between CO and decreased levels of copper and lead approached significance (p=0.056 for both elements). Individuals with CO furthermore displayed significantly lower delta N-15 isotope values, suggesting greater consumption of lower trophic level food resources than those unaffected by CO; delta C-13 and delta O-18 values, in contrast, showed no significant differences. These results suggest that the prevalence of CO may be related to dietary deficiencies. In this case, low iron levels may also signify a diet low in other key vitamins (e.g., B-g and B-12), which are known to cause megaloblastic anemia.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 38, 131-137 p.
Epidemiology, Bioarchaeology, Nutrition, Physical anthropology, Trace elements, Cribra orbitalia
Biological Sciences Nutrition and Dietetics Archaeology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136237DOI: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.05.008ISI: 000385473600016PubMedID: 27289401OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-136237DiVA: diva2:1055285