1Département de Préhistoire, UMR 7194, MNHN Paris, 2Abdus Salam, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, 3Sezione di Antropologia, Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini", Rome, 4Département Hommes, natures, sociétes, UMR 7206, MNHN Paris, 5Département Géosciences, Université de Poitiers
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The transition from an intra- to extra-uterine environment leaves its mark in deciduous teeth (and first permanent molars) as an accentuated enamel incremental ring called the neonatal line (NL). This prominent microfeature separates the enamel formed during intrauterine life from that formed after leaving the womb. However, while the physical structure of this scar is well known, the bases of its formation are still a matter of investigation. In particular, besides the influence of the birth-related abrupt environmental and dietary changes and the role played by physiological factors such as hypocalcaemia, it has been suggested a direct relationship between NL thickness variation and the physical trauma implied by the birth dynamics, the Caesarean and the operative modes apparently determining the thinnest and the thickest lines, respectively.
By using the histological record from a deciduous dental sample (exfoliated crowns) of 100 modern healthy school-aged children (47 males and 53 females) of reported birth histories (normal delivery mode: 55 cases; Caesarean: 40; operative: 5), we investigated the relationships between birth dynamics and NL thickness variation. The Tukey Honest Significant Difference method has been used to test the differences between the means of the grouping levels.
The results of our histo-morphological investigation do not support the suggestion that Caesarean-born children display, on average, a thinner enamel scar compared to children associated to a normal delivery mode. Rather, our study supports the view of a stronger influence exerted by factors intimately related to gestational length variation on the degree of expression of the line.