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The extensive interacting matrix of variables associated with population variation in growth, development, and maturation are reviewed. Secular trends in growth and maturation are described and interpreted. Human growth under adversity is explained and hope for the future is offered.
The genome encodes the information needed to make us human, but genes do not directly cause growth and development. Gene expression is regulated and mediated by several biological systems, especially the neurological and endocrine (neuroendocrine) systems. Hormones regulate and coordinate critical developmental processes, integrating across several systems, including the central nervous system, the reproductive system, and the digestive system. Hormones are influenced by nutritional status and infections. Therefore, hormones provide a mechanism by which “real-time” information about a body’s health is communicated to the brain and processed by its regulatory centers in the hypothalamus and pituitary, through which growth is affected accordingly.
The basic biological principles of human development, history of growth studies as examples of social concerns related to health, education, politics and human “race” biology are all examined. Important technological and statistical developments to better measure and interpret growth and development are covered.
The conventional wisdom that human growth is optimal when adequate amounts of all nutrients, minimal infection, and adequate psychosocial stimulation are available is too simplistic. The extensive interacting networks of material, biological, social, and ideological variables that comprise human life give rise to a hugely complicated matrix of factors that shape human phenotypes. There is no single optimal pattern of growth. There are ranges of possibilities with a multitude of local optima within the developmental matrix. The importance of social-economic-political-emotional (SEPE) factors is discussed in relation to new hypotheses of community effects and strategic growth adjustments on human development.
Review of growth and development process before and after birth. Definition of tissue types, hyperplasia, and hypertrophy. Brain and language development, theory of mind, weaning, motor development, and dental development are covered. The human stages of infant, child, juvenile, adolescent, and adult are defined. Human senescence is described.
The biocultural benefits and risks for human growth and development are reviewed. A list of the top discoveries of growth is given and future problems for growth researchers are presented. The problems include sibling effects on height, better understanding of the dual-burden of short stature with over-fatness, the association of father’s absence with age at menarche, and the impact of climate change, uncertainty, and allostatic load on human growth.
The previous chapter described the evolution of the human pattern of growth in terms of its mammalian and primate foundations. The emphasis was on form and function of anatomical structures such as the placenta, the brain, and the skeletal system and how these structures are developed during the stages of human growth. In this chapter the emphasis is placed on how the human life cycle evolved. The life cycle of any organism includes all the stages of growth, development, and maturation from conception to death. Major events in the evolution of the human life cycle influenced the prenatal stages of development. A brief review of some human prenatal growth and development was provided in previous chapters. For further information of discoveries made in the last century of research relating to primate fetal development readers may consult the review by Richtsmeier (2018). It is worth mentioning here one classic example of human differences in prenatal growth and development published by Schultz (1926). His sketches of the body proportions of hominoid fetuses are reproduced here as Figure 4.1. The human fetus “of the 4th month” has relatively shorter legs than the chimpanzee, orangutan, or gibbon. The accuracy of this difference assumes that Schultz estimated fetal development correctly for the nonhuman apes (see Figure 4.1 legend). Another difference in proportion, not noted by Schultz, is the size of the cranium relative to the face, which is larger in the human fetus than in the chimpanzee, orangutan, or gibbon.
The vertebrate, mammalian, and primate patterns of growth are compared with the human differences in pattern. Human uniqueness in brain development and the adolescent growth spurt require novel biology and a special philosophy for human development.
The history and philosophy of human growth and development in the field of anthropology are studied. Examples of the Maya people of Guatemala and Mexico are given to place human growth in its biocultural framework.
This completely revised edition provides a synthesis of the forces that shaped the evolution of the human growth pattern, the biocultural factors that direct its expression, the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate individual development, and the biomathematical approaches needed to analyze and interpret human growth. After covering the history, philosophy and biological principles of human development, the book turns to the evolution of the human life cycle. Later chapters explore the physiological, environmental and cultural reasons for population variation in growth, and the genetic and endocrine factors that regulate individual development. Using numerous historical and cultural examples, social-economic-political-economic forces are also discussed. A new chapter introduces controversial concepts of community effects and strategic growth adjustments, and the author then integrates all this information into a truly interactive biocultural model of human development. This remains the primary text for students of human growth in anthropology, psychology, public health and education.
Stunting (height-for-age < −2 sd) is one of the forms of undernutrition and is frequent among children of low- and middle-income countries. But stunting perse is not a synonym of undernutrition. We investigated association between body height and indicators of energetic undernutrition at three critical thresholds for thinness used in public health: (1) BMI SDS < −2; (2) mid-upper arm circumference divided by height (MUAC (mm) × 10/height (cm) < 1·36) and (3) mean skinfold thickness (SF) < 7 mm and to question the reliability of thresholds as indicators of undernutrition.
Cross-sectional study; breakpoint analysis.
Rural and urban regions of Indonesia and Guatemala – different socio-economic status (SES).
1716 Indonesian children (6·0–13·2 years) and 3838 Guatemalan children (4·0–18·9 years) with up to 50 % stunted children.
When separating the regression of BMI, MUAC or SF, on height into distinguishable segments (breakpoint analysis), we failed to detect relevant associations between height, and BMI, MUAC or SF, even in the thinnest and shortest children. For BMI and SF, the breakpoint analysis either failed to reach statistical significance or distinguished at breakpoints above critical thresholds. For MUAC, the breakpoint analysis yielded negative associations between MUAC/h and height in thin individuals. Only in high SES Guatemalan children, SF and height appeared mildly associated with R2 = 0·017.
Currently used lower thresholds of height-for-age (stunting) do not show relevant associations with anthropometric indicators of energetic undernutrition. We recommend using the catch-up growth spurt during early re-feeding instead as immediate and sensitive indicator of past undernourishment. We discuss the primacy of education and social-economic-political-emotional circumstances as responsible factors for stunting.
To investigate changes in socio-economic inequalities in growth in height, weight, BMI and grip strength in children born during 1955–1993 in Guatemala, a period of marked socio-economic-political change.
We modelled longitudinal data on height, weight, BMI and hand grip strength using Super-Imposition by Translation and Rotation (SITAR). Internal Z-scores summarising growth size, timing and intensity (peak growth velocity, e.g. cm/year) were created to investigate inequalities by socio-economic position (SEP; measured by school attended). Interactions of SEP with date of birth were investigated to capture secular changes in inequalities.
Urban and peri-urban schools in the region of Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Participants were 40 484 children and adolescents aged 3–19 years of Ladino and Maya ancestry (nobservations 157 067).
The difference in height (SITAR size) between lowest and highest SEP decreased from −2·0 (95 % CI −2·2, −1·9) sd to −1·4 (95 % CI −1·5, −1·3) sd in males, and from −2·0 (95 % CI −2·1, −1·9) sd to −1·2 (95 % CI −1·3, −1·2) sd in females over the study period. Inequalities also reduced for weight, BMI and grip strength, due to greater secular increases in lowest-SEP groups. The puberty period was earlier and shorter in higher-SEP individuals (earlier SITAR timing and higher SITAR intensity). All SEP groups showed increases in BMI intensity over time.
Inequality narrowed between the 1960s and 1990s. The lowest-SEP groups were still >1 sd shorter than the highest. Risks remain for reduced human capital and poorer population health for urban Guatemalans.
Children in slums are at high risk of undernutrition, which has long-term negative consequences on their physical growth and cognitive development. Severe undernutrition can lead to the child’s death. The present paper aimed to understand the causes of undernutrition in children as perceived by various groups of community members in Nairobi slums, Kenya.
Analysis of ten focus group discussions and ten individual interviews with key informants. The main topic discussed was the root causes of child undernutrition in the slums. The focus group discussions and key informant interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded in NVivo by extracting concepts and using a constant comparison of data across the different categories of respondents to draw out themes to enable a thematic analysis.
Two slum communities in Nairobi, Kenya.
Women of childbearing age, community health workers, elders, leaders and other knowledgeable people in the two slum communities (n 90).
Participants demonstrated an understanding of undernutrition in children.
Findings inform target criteria at community and household level that can be used to identify children at risk of undernutrition. To tackle the immediate and underlying causes of undernutrition, interventions recommended should aim to: (i) improve maternal health and nutrition; (ii) promote optimal infant and young children feeding practices; (iii) support mothers in their working role; (iv) increase access to family planning; (v) improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); (vi) address alcohol problems at all levels; and (vii) address street food issues with infant feeding counselling.