The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Immune and reproductive functions in female life history: how do we go about it?


Anthropology, Durham University

Friday 8:15-8:30, Galleria South Add to calendar

Most of the attention on the relationship between immune and reproductive functions in human females has focused on the immune aspects of the actual reproductive process or on how infection affects reproductive health, both within a clinical or public health context. The long term, developmental and evolutionary aspects of such relationship are less understood. The paucity of data, both in human and non-human primates, relate to the technical, theoretical and ethical challenges in the assessment of immune and reproductive functions at the individual and population levels. Recently however, new methodological and conceptual breakthroughs have been made which have propelled the study of the interactions between immune function and other life processes. The field is thus ripe for new hypothesis-led research aimed at understanding which and how ecological variables affect such interactions and in turn, result in population variation. In this paper, I will summarise the empirical evidence, discuss the theoretical and methodological challenges and identify questions for future research.

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