A joint medico-historical and paleopathological perspective on vitamin D deficiency prevalence in post-Medieval Netherlands Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: By applying a joint medico-historical and paleopathological perspective, this paper aims to improve our understanding of factors influencing past vitamin D deficiency in ten Dutch 17th to 19th-century communities of varying socioeconomic status and settlement type. MATERIALS: Vitamin D deficiency is evaluated in 733 individuals of both sexes and all age groups: Silvolde (n = 16), Rotterdam (n = 23), Rhenen (n = 24), Noordwijkerhout (n = 27), Gouda1and 2 (n = 40; n = 59), Roosendaal (n = 51), Den Haag (n = 93), Hattem (n = 113), and Beemster (n = 287). METHODS: Rickets and residual rickets are macroscopically assessed using established criteria. Hypotheses formulated based on medico-historical texts are investigated via multivariate statistical analysis of vitamin D deficiency prevalence. RESULTS: Vitamin D deficiency prevalence ranges from 13.7 % (7/51) in Roosendaal to 48.1 % (13/27) in Noordwijkerhout, with an onset of < 4 years, and higher rates in cities, conforming to medico-historical texts. Patterns of child labor are likely key. In contrast, socioeconomic status did not statistically significantly influence vitamin D deficiency prevalence rates. CONCLUSION: Systematically collected paleopathological data enabled evaluation of medico-historical texts and provided insights into the role that socioeconomic status and settlement type played on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. SIGNIFICANCE: Combining medico-historical texts and large-scale paleopathological data enables disease patterning to be embedded in a comprehensive biocultural perspective. LIMITATIONS: Comparisons may be limited by the small sample size of high socioeconomic status nonadults and some of the collections. SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: Analysis of more individuals and sites would improve our understanding of disease patterns.

publication date

  • March 2021