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Keywords:

  • dental age;
  • skeletal age;
  • socioeconomic factors;
  • reference collections

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between measures of skeletal and dental development and socioeconomic factors in a 20th century documented skeletal sample of children from Portugal. The skeletons are of known sex and chronological age, and include other biographic data, such as cause of death. Growth in the length of the long bone is used as a measure of skeletal growth, and schedules of tooth formation are used as a measure of dental development. These two measures of physiological age were compared to chronological age, to assess growth and developmental status. Socioeconomic indicators were obtained from the supporting documentation, and include the occupation of the father and the place of residence, which were used to build a socioeconomic classification based on two groups, one of low and the other of high socioeconomic status. Growth and development status was then compared in these two groups. Results show that socioeconomic differences are much more pronounced in skeletal growth than in dental development. This largely supports the assertion that dental development is buffered against environmental factors relative to skeletal development. However, in this study, skeletal maturation could not be assessed, and findings indicate that dental development can show significant delays at the lower end of the socioeconomic gradient. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.