, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp 535-544

Hypoplasia and health status: a comparison of two lifestyles

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Abstract

Enamel hypoplasia was recorded for the primary and permanent teeth of Natufians (terminal Pleistocene Hunter-Gatherers) and Early Arabs (Subsistence farmers). Minimal hypoplasia was found in the primary teeth of the Natufians, but in the Early Arab population, 31% of upper first primary molars showed enamel defects. In the permanent teeth, the Early Arab population again showed a significantly higher frequency of hypoplasia, with all teeth affected. In the Natufians, only later developing teeth showed enamel defects. These findings suggest that health status in the Early Arab population was poor throughout life, affecting pregnant mothers, their foetuses, young infants and children. These results confirm other studies that have shown deterioration in health status of early agriculturalists relative to hunter- gatherers. Comparisons of these findings with those of recent populations indicate that health status in the Natufians was comparable to that of modern populations with subsistence diets and mediocre health care. Health status in the Early Arab population was comparable to that of modern populations suffering from severe malnutrition and chronic disease.