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Pubic Bone Age Estimation in Adult Women

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In recent years, numerous physical anthropologists have pointed out the need for regional standards for estimating age in various world populations. While investigating aging methods for East European populations, dramatic changes were noted in the pubic symphyseal morphology and structure of older adult female individuals. These changes were not captured in the typically used pubic symphysis aging methods. This paper defines and tests the need for a new phase, phase VII, that follows the Suchey-Brooks phase VI. In addition, Suchey-Brooks phases V and VI are redefined. Phase definitions, decision-making rules, and comparison graphics for the new method are presented. Balkan (n = 85) and Eastern Tennessee (n = 104) samples, totaling 189 individuals, were used in the analysis. Pearson correlation coefficients between four observers and a control seriation were strong, indicating ease of replicability between investigators. No statistically significant intra-observer error was detected. Summary statistics show that individuals in phase V were on average in the early 50s, while individuals in phase VI were in their mid 50s to mid 60s, and individuals in phase VII were in their mid 70s. Since linear regression models tend to under-age the elderly and over-age the young, transition analysis, using an unrestricted cumulative probit model, was undertaken to evaluate the phases and to produce point estimates for the ages-at-transition for the Balkan sample. The highest posterior density region point estimates with their associated upper and lower bounds can be used for predicting age for unknown forensic cases related to the Balkan sample. Further, the mean ages and standard deviations for phases V–VII for the Tennessee sample are presented for use in American forensic cases.

Keywords: aging; forensic anthropology; forensic science; pubic symphysis

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-05-01

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