During the last century, industrialized countries experienced such an improvement in socioeconomic conditions and in sanitation that it is likely that the selective forces active on human metric traits have been modified. Perinatal mortality as a function of birth weight is one of the clearest examples of natural selection in humans. Here, trends over time of stabilizing and directional selection associated with birth weight have been analyzed in Japan from 1969 to 1989. The population of newborns has been subdivided according to gestational age, which is one of the main covariates of birth weight. The results show that in full-term babies both stabilizing and directional selection are coming to an end, whereas in babies born after 8 months of gestation these selective forces are still active, even if at much lower levels than in the past. The peculiar results found in the 7-month-gestation population are probably due to grossly abnormal cases of immaturity.
"Effects of Environmental Changes on Natural Selection Active on Human Polygenic Traits,"
3, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol65/iss3/7