Document Type



Dental enamel hypoplasia is a putative marker of childhood morbidity (nutritional or infectious stress) which can be analyzed by age-of-occurrence using a calcification standard. We have recorded age-specific occurrence of (a) minor linear hypoplasias, (b) pits, (c) major growth-arrest lines, and (d) combined hypoplasias in 103 specimens of 17-19th century Caribbean slaves. This population is probably unique in terms of environment, nutritional deficiency and other severe environmental stresses, and (especially) association with historical resources that might allow more specific correlation of stresses with hypoplasia chronology.Barbados slaves have a clearly defined central age tendency of 3-4 years at formation of hypoplasias. The lateness of the mode, the percent concentration between 3-4 years, and the residual occurrences at 4+ years are relatively pronounced compared to other reported populations (notwithstanding differences in counting techniques). The age of first hypoplasia occurrence per individual is also probably later in slaves than in other populations. The 3-4 year age range encompasses the year following the historically-documented relatively late time that slave children were weaned (at 2-3 years). Other non-industrial populations show a hypoplasia peak at 2-3 years following a presumed weaning at 1-2 years. Thus the weaning hypothesis and other historical factors (such as periodic food shortages and famine conditions) help explain the mode and the residual distribution of hypoplasia. The historical sources also support the general expectation that the post-weaning period was one of high risk.