The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Intra-household variation in anemia status and its relationship with self-perceived health in the Mexican Family Life Survey: Implications for Bioarchaeology


1Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 2Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueologicas y Museo, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile, 3Sociology, The Ohio State University

Friday 2:00-2:15, Ballroom A Add to calendar

The presence of porotic hyperostosis (PH) and cribra orbitalia (CO) in human skeletal remains is used as an indicator of chronic anemia caused by nutritional inadequacy (poor dietary intake or malabsorption) which can affect work capacity and quality of life. In the bioarchaeological literature, PH and CO are commonly used as markers of living conditions, status and an individual’s well-being. However, the association between anemia status, living conditions and quality of life has not been fully tested among living populations. Using data from the Mexican Family Life Survey (MxFLS), we explored variation in anemia status among members of the same household, as well as its relationship with self-reported nutritional status. The rate of anemia in the sample was relatively high with 6,018 of the 32,144 individuals (19%) affected. Comparing adults and children living in the same home we found a high degree of incongruity, 73% of anemic children had non-anemic mothers. A similar degree of incongruity was found between spouses. In 92% of households with an anemic adult, the spouse of that individual was non-anemic. Finally, while a higher incidence of anemia was associated with lower self-perceived nutrition, 12% of those who reported being very well or well-nourished were found to be anemic. These data suggest that caution should be taken when using PH and OB to reconstruct lifestyle due to the high degree of intra-household variation observed here. In addition, the data also suggest that the presence of anemia does not always correlate with individuals’ self-perception of life quality.

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