Enamel Hypoplasia Related to Historical Famine Stress in the Contemporary Chinese Population

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Liming Zhou
Robert S. Corruccini


Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH), a defect in enamel formation, has been frequently attributed to malnutrition and other physiological stress during periods of enamel development (Sarnat and Schour, 1941; Kreshover, 1960). LEH has been widely used as an indicator of developmental stress in skeletal studies among historic and prehistoric populations (Goodman et al., 1980; Corruccini et al., 1985; Goodman and Rose, 1990). A study of 3,014 subjects in 26 birth-year cohorts, samples from urban and rural communities of China, indicated that significant differences in LEH frequencies occurred between persons whose teeth developed during the famine years (1959-1961) and those whoe teeth calcified during non-famine years. This result points to a causal link between enamel hypoplasia and childhood nutritional stress at the population level, and casts some light on the magnitude and effects of the little-documented Chinese famine.