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The influence of chronic conditions and the environment on pubertal development. An example from medieval England

Lewis, M. E., Shapland, F. and Watts, R. (2016) The influence of chronic conditions and the environment on pubertal development. An example from medieval England. International Journal of Paleopathology, 12. pp. 1-10. ISSN 1879-9817

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpp.2015.10.004

Abstract/Summary

Adolescence is a unique period in human development encompassing sexual maturation (puberty) and the physical and psychological transition into adulthood. It is a crucial time for healthy development and any adverse environmental conditions, poor nutrition, or chronic infection can alter the timing of these physical changes; delaying menarche in girls or the age of peak height velocity in boys. This study explores the impact of chronic illness on the tempo of puberty in 607 adolescent skeletons from medieval England (AD 900-1550). A total of 135 (22.2%) adolescents showed some delay in their pubertal development, and this lag increased with age. Of those with a chronic condition, 40.0% (n=24/60) showed delay compared to only 20.3% (n=111/547) of the non-pathology group. This difference was statistically significant. A binary logistic regression model demonstrated a significant association between increasing delay in pubertal stage attainment with age in the pathology group. This is the first time that chronic conditions have been directly associated with a delay in maturation in the osteological record, using a new method to assess stages of puberty in skeletal remains.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
ID Code:51151
Uncontrolled Keywords:tuberculosis treponemal disease rickets epiphyseal fusion adolescence
Publisher:Elsevier

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