Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped by Wenda Trevathan Ph.D.

By Wenda Trevathan Ph.D.

Winner of the 2011 W.W. Howells e-book Award of the yank Anthropological Association

How has bipedalism impacted human childbirth? Do PMS and postpartum melancholy have particular, perhaps even precious, services? those are just of the numerous questions that experts in evolutionary medication search to respond to, and that anthropologist Wenda Trevathan addresses in Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives.

Exploring quite a number women's future health matters which may be seen via an evolutionary lens, in particular targeting replica, Trevathan delves into matters resembling the scientific effects of early puberty in women, the impression of migration, tradition swap, and poverty on reproductive wellbeing and fitness, and the way fetal development retardation impacts wellbeing and fitness in later existence. Hypothesizing that some of the wellbeing and fitness demanding situations confronted by way of ladies this day outcome from a mismatch among how their our bodies have developed and the modern environments within which glossy people reside, Trevathan sheds gentle at the strength and capability of interpreting the human lifestyles cycle from an evolutionary point of view, and the way this would enhance our figuring out of women's well-being and our skill to confront health and wellbeing demanding situations in additional artistic, potent ways.

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Extra info for Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health

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How can we forget the photos of starving women in places like Darfur or Zimbabwe who are nursing their infants? Clearly these women were not likely to have accumulated excess body fat a year or so earlier so they must have ovulated and successfully carried a pregnancy to term despite low levels of food intake. 15 Starvation is not something that we are directly familiar with in the West (except in the tragic 30 Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives cases of anorexia nervosa), but we are familiar with teenage girls putting on extra weight and then starting their periods, so it is not surprising that we think that fat and reproduction are related.

Furthermore, the younger the girl was when her father left, the earlier her menarche, and if she subsequently lived with a stepfather, menarche was even earlier. In other words, long-term exposure to related males seems to delay menarche, whereas exposure to unrelated males appears to accelerate it. If indeed early menarche is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, it could be argued that being raised by two parents is protective for a number of health risks. This may be a stretch, however, because the both-parents-raising-children model that we have in the United States is far from universal across cultures.

But even when nutrient availability is high, as it is in well-fed American teens, competition between fetus and mother may result in low infant birth weight. 56 One thing that could be accounting for contradictory findings with regard to birth outcomes is the tendency in national statistical surveys to lump all teens in one category (ages 13–19), when it is obvious that girls in the lower ages (13–14) and upper ages (18–19) are two very different organisms. In fact, obstetric outcomes for girls 18 and 19 are about the same as for women in their 20s.

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