Document Detail

Probable evidence of scurvy in subadults from archeological sites in Peru.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10096683     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Subadult scurvy is not well documented in archeological human remains despite the existence of many biomedical references indicating that bone changes do occur in some cases and, because of this, should be observable in human burials. There are several potential reasons for this gap in our knowledge of scurvy. Not all children who suffered from scurvy died of the disease or from other causes when they had scurvy. Scurvy may not leave characteristic bone changes in every case of the disease. Some of the pathological conditions associated with scurvy have been known for many years, but these features may be rare or difficult to differentiate from other pathological conditions. Recently a lesion of the skull has been described that is probably pathognomonic for scurvy, specifically porous and sometimes hypertrophic lesions of the greater wing of the sphenoid. This lesion is bilateral and highly associated with evidence of inflammation at other anatomical sites in the skull. A survey of subadult skulls (N = 363) in the human skeletal collection from Peru at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, reveals a prevalence of 10% of skulls that exhibit plausible evidence of scurvy. Some cases of scurvy also have cribra orbitalia that has been attributed to anemia. In most of the Peruvian scurvy cases, anemia is an unlikely possibility because there is no evidence of marrow hyperplasia. This highlights the need for caution in using lesions of the orbit as an indicator of anemia when there is no other evidence of this disease elsewhere in the skeleton. Anatomical evidence of scurvy offers the potential of providing new and important evidence of diet in archeological human populations.
D J Ortner; E H Kimmerle; M Diez
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  American journal of physical anthropology     Volume:  108     ISSN:  0002-9483     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. J. Phys. Anthropol.     Publication Date:  1999 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-05-10     Completed Date:  1999-05-10     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0400654     Medline TA:  Am J Phys Anthropol     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  321-31     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Ascorbic Acid Deficiency
Child, Preschool
Forensic Anthropology
Infant, Newborn
Scurvy / physiopathology*
Skull / pathology

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