A morphometric analysis of parturition scarring on the human pelvic bone

Date

2014-06-04

Authors

Decrausaz, Sarah-Louise

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Abstract

Osteological studies have identified scarring on the bone surface of the human pelvic bone as evidence of childbirth, termed parturition scarring. It remains unknown whether a single or multiple births cause parturition scarring. Such scarring has also been found on male pelvic bones. This study examines parturition scarring within the broader morphometric and musculoskeletal context of the pelves of both sexes. This project investigates the influence of body size (stature and body mass) and pelvic size (individual pelvic measurements and pelvic canal size) and shape (pelvic canal shape) on the presence of parturition scarring on the pelvic bones of females and males. Two skeletal collections of known-age and sex were chosen for this project on the basis of access to parity (childbirth) records: the Maxwell Museum Documented Skeletal Collection and the Christ Church, Spitalfields collection. The dimensions of articulated and disarticulated pelves, femoral measurements and scores for six types of parturition scarring were recorded for all individuals (n=292). Skeletal proxies for body mass and stature were calculated for all individuals. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to identify significant differences in parturition scarring between sexes, correlation between body size variables, parity status, pelvic canal size and pelvic canal shape (as represented by principal components analysis) and parturition scarring. Parity status and pelvic canal shape do not associate with parturition scarring. Pubic tubercle variables associated variously with femoral head diameter and pelvic canal size in females or males only. Dorsal pitting correlates weakly with four pelvic dimensions in females. The results of this study suggest that the term ‘parturition scarring’ should be revised to reflect its non-connection with parity status and that future investigations should examine musculoskeletal interactions based on body and pelvic size variation that affect the presence of such scarring in males.

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Keywords

parturition scarring, pelvis, morphometric, skeletal size

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