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Keywords:

  • Arikara;
  • Perinatal infants;
  • Diaphyseal lengths;
  • Age distributions

Abstract

Prenatal growth is adversely affected by poor socioeconomic conditions where disease and chronic undernutrition prevail. Premature and small-for-gestational-age births occur at higher frequency.

Post-contact Arikara Indian populations of South Dakota experienced a rapidly changing and disruptive environment that included deterioration of the subsistence base and increased morbidity. This research tests resulting fetal growth effects through comparative analysis of two perinatal infant samples of the early (A. D. 1600–1733) and the late (A. D. 1760–1835) post-contact period. Perinatal infants recovered from late cemeteries include a higher percentage of smaller skeletons, as determined using long bone diaphyseal lengths, than is documented for the earlier time period. This contrast shows that it is possible to detect fetal growth differences in samples of archaeological context.