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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
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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
Abstract [en]

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.
Keyword [en]
Epidemiology, Bioarchaeology, Nutrition, Physical anthropology, Trace elements, Cribra orbitalia
National Category
Biological Sciences Nutrition and Dietetics Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136237DOI: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.05.008ISI: 000385473600016PubMedID: 27289401OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-136237DiVA: diva2:1055285
Available from: 2016-12-12 Created: 2016-12-01 Last updated: 2016-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Wärmländer, Sebastian K. T. S.
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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
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