Human Evolution

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 375–385 | Cite as

Secular trend and age distribution of cribra orbitalia in Japanese

  • K. Hirata


Cribra orbitalia is currently regarded as an indicator of environmental conditions. The prevalence and severity of this lesion in Japanese populations from prehistoric Jomon to modern times were recorded and discussed. Since the lesion was low in both frequency and grade in the late and final Jomon people from Chiba Prefecture, they presumably lived in relatively favorable environmental conditions. The increased prevalence of the lesion in the medieval Muromachi citizens of Kamakura may be attributed to the poor hygiene and social conditions. The high prevalence and marked severity of the lesion in the citizens of Edo (the old name of Tokyo) in the 17th century suggested that they lived under extremely unfavorable situations of nutrition, sanitation and medical care. Cribra orbitalia was most prevalent in adolescence (81.3%) among the Edo citizens. The incidence of the most severe type of lesion rose gradually during childhood, reached a peak in adolescence, and then gradually decreased with age. These findings would reflect intense marrow hyperplasia in the orbital roof associated with both iron deficiency anemia of long standing during the immature period and increased iron requirement in adolescence. The results obtained support the hypothesis that iron deficiency anemia is the primary factor in the etiology of cribra orbitalia. It was concluded that the incidence and severity of cribra orbitalia due to various anemic reactions reflected the dietary, hygienic, social and environmental circumstances of the populations investigated.

Key words

Cribra orbitalia Secular trend Age distribution Iron deficiency anemia Japanese 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Il Sedicesimo 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Hirata
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomySt. Marianna University School of MedicineKawasakiJapan

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