Cribra Orbitalia and Porotic Hyperostosis are Associated with Respiratory Infections in a Contemporary Mortality Sample from New Mexico
Posted: Sep 28, 2020 - 10:00am
Cribra orbitalia (CO) and porotic hyperostosis (PH) are porous cranial lesions (PCLs) classically associated with iron‐deficiency anemia in bioarchaeological contexts. However, recent studies indicate a need to reassess the interpretation of PCLs. This study addresses the potential health correlates of PCLs in a contemporary sample by examining relationships between the known cause of death (COD) and PCL presence/absence.
This study includes a sample of 461 juvenile individuals (6 months to 15 years of age) who underwent examination at the University of New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator between 2011 and 2019. The information available for each individual includes their sex, age at death, and their COD and manner of death.
Odds ratio of having CO (OR = 3.92, p < .01) or PH (OR = 2.86, p = .02) lesions are increased in individuals with respiratory infections. Individuals with heart conditions have increased odds of having CO (OR = 3.52, p = .03) lesions, but not PH.
Individuals with respiratory infection are more likely to have CO and/or PH. CO appears to have a greater range of health correlates than PH does, as indicated by the heart condition results. However, individuals with congenital heart defects are at higher risk for respiratory infections, so bony alterations in cases of heart conditions may be due to respiratory illness. Since respiratory infection remains a leading cause of mortality today, CO and PH in bioarchaeological contexts should be considered as potential indicators of respiratory infections in the past.