Saige Kelmelis

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

South Dakota, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10575

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Kelmelis, Saige (South Dakota, U. of) "Estimating fertility, disease, and famine using tooth cementum - a validation study in rural Matlab, Bangladesh"

This project investigates the use of cementum incremental growth markers to identify and estimate the ages of gravidity, parity, and metabolic changes linked to sustained physiological stress events using recently-extracted teeth from living women and men with known fertility and medical histories from Matlab, Bangladesh. Previous studies demonstrate the possibility of identifying life-history events (e.g. pregnancies) in cementum, yet are unable to evaluate the accuracy of the novel method as a physiological record by distinguishing pregnancies from stress markers caused by other stress events. We hypothesize that fluctuations in tooth cementum annulations (TCA) will correspond to documented age-specific gravidity events, and be optically distinct from nonpregnancy years and other physiological stress events. We are collecting monoradicular teeth from women and men in Bangladesh with recorded fertility histories who lived during a historical famine in 1974. To control for external and internal factors, we interview participants for information about nutrition, childhood stress, oral health, and medications that might interfere with TCA. TCA analysis will yield a statistical validation study to assess how accurately gravidity and famine can be identified in cementum and thus how accurately such events can be identified in teeth from archaeological, forensic, and fossil contexts.