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Goede buren by Johannes Christiaan Janson, late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries. via Wikimedia Commons

Anthropology Colloquium Series | Dr. Andrea Waters-Rist, University of Western Ontario

Title: “Infant Diet and Health in a Rural 19th-century Dutch Community: Paleodiet meets Paleopathology”, Date: Tuesday, October 1st, Location: LR Wilson Hall, Room 1003, Time: 3:30-5:00

Sep 18, 2019

Anthropology Colloquium Series | Dr. Andrea Waters-Rist, University of Western Ontario

 

Title: “Infant Diet and Health in a Rural 19th-century Dutch Community: Paleodiet meets Paleopathology”
Date: Tuesday, October 1st
Location: LR Wilson Hall, Room 1003
Time: 3:30-5:00

Today, as in the past, breastfeeding and weaning have a considerable effect on infant health, growth, and survival. Bioarchaeologists can use stable isotope ratios of bones and teeth to reconstruct the infant feeding practices of past populations. Examining growth patterns, markers of physiological stress and disease, and demographic profiles can then allow us to explore morbidity and mortality during the first years of life. This research explores breastfeeding and weaning practices in the large, rural, 19th-century collection from Middenbeemster, the Netherlands. This community of dairy farmers had short to absent episodes of breastfeeding with cow’s milk used as the predominate weaning food even in very young (<3 months) infants. The habitual absence of breastfeeding is not usually seen until the 20th century with the advent of formula and availability and affordability of artificial feeding devices (e.g. bottles). The substitution of cow’s milk for breastmilk is explored for its effect on bone growth, physiological stress episodes, and metabolic diseases, like vitamin D deficiency.

 

Andrea L. Waters-Rist is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Western Ontario. She uses stable isotope and synchrotron-based trace element methods to reconstruct the diets of past populations, focusing in particular on infant feeding practices. Dr. Waters-Rist also analyses human skeletal and dental remains for evidence of a wide range of diseases and activity-induced modifications, and assesses patterns of growth and development.