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This research examines the pattern of secular change in the cranial morphology of two populations experiencing the epidemiological transition associated with decreased mortality rates in children, followed by declines in infant mortality and subsequent increases in adult longevity. The two samples examined in this study come from US and Portuguese individuals. The epidemiological transition oc- curred at different times in the United States and Portugal, with Portugal entering into the transition later than the United States. The results of the study show that the US and Portuguese samples experienced significant changes in cranial morphology during the approximately 150 years under study. In all of the samples the cranial base morphology changes significantly over time. However, the pattern of change in the US and Portuguese samples varies in the other regions of the crania. The US samples exhibit significant changes associated with the posterior cranial fossa, which experiences the greatest growth during the fetal period and the first year of life. Conversely, in the Portuguese samples the region of the cranium that shows the greatest change is in the face and lateral cranial base, which experiences the greatest growth from three to nine years. This differential pattern may reflect differences in changing mortality patterns in the two countries. During the period under study the United States had already proceeded through the early stages of the epidemiological transition, and improvements in the juvenile mortality and juvenile growth had occurred previously. Subsequently, the United States experienced significant declines in infant mortality, and the regions of the crania that exhibit the greatest changes occur in area with maximum growth velocity under one year. However, Portugal entered into the epidemiological transition later than the United States and therefore the greatest changes in growth occurred during the juvenile period, which is reflected in the adult morphology in this group. This study demonstrates the utility of variation in growth patterns in different cranial regions to document changes in the demographic parameters in two different populations.
Weisensee, Katherine E. and Jantz, Richard L., "An Examination of the Differential Effects of the Modern Epidemiological Transition on Cranial Morphology in the United States and Portugal" (2017). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 91.