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Maya Sub Adult Mortality and Individual Physiological Frailty: An Analysis of Infant Stress by Means of Linear Enamel Hypoplasia

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The present investigation analyses linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) in the permanent maxillary central incisor and canine and the mandibular canine in relation to the age-at-death of individuals from the Classic (AD 250–700) Maya port of Xcambó in Yucatan. It follows up a previous, general study (Méndez Collí et al. 2009) which in agreement with the literature, pointed to an increased rate of enamel defect in sub adults in comparison to adults. The present study provides a more nuanced view of the effects of developmental stress on those individuals who survived the critical post-weaning phase but did not reach adulthood, based on the assumption that a correlation should exist between LEH and age at death within the sub adult population. Sub adults were divided into three age classes (4–10, 10–15 and 15–20 years old), and their respective LEHs were also compared to the adult cohort. Contrary to expectations, results do not show specific patterns among the sub adult subgroups, with the exception of those who experienced eight defects or more. Once individuals survived the critical early years, a wide array of other factors may have put their lives at risk.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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