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Can the palaeoepidemiology of rickets during the industrialisation period in France be studied through bioarchaeological grey literature and French medico-historical literature of the 18th-early 20th centuries? Preliminary examination of a complex topic

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Coqueugniot,  Hélène
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Colombo, A., Coqueugniot, H., & Dutour, O. (2021). Can the palaeoepidemiology of rickets during the industrialisation period in France be studied through bioarchaeological grey literature and French medico-historical literature of the 18th-early 20th centuries? Preliminary examination of a complex topic. International Journal of Paleopathology, 34, 76-81. doi:10.1016/j.ijpp.2021.06.005.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-1C87-0
Abstract
Objective This study explores whether data relating to rickets from the French medico-historical literature (FMHL) and bioarchaeological grey literature are useful in evaluating its epidemiology during the industrialisation of France. Unlike other European countries such as England, industrialisation in France was a slow and continuous process with two phases: the first in 1830–1870 and the second in 1870–1914. Materials and methods A bibliographical analysis of 2800 FMHL sources from the 18th to the early 20th centuries and 50 archaeological excavation reports from the last 21 years was undertaken. Results The FMHL data is very heterogeneous and predominantly dates to the second phase of industrialisation. The bioarchaeological data is very incomplete and predominantly relates to the period before industrialisation. At the same time, knowledge improvement and institutional changes to protect children could explain more systematic registration of cases of rickets. Conclusions No solid conclusions can be made regarding the prevalence of rickets at present, however these data hold great potential. Significance In comparison to England, no systematic investigation of rickets prevalence during the period of industrialisation in France has been undertaken to date. Limitations The lack of archaeological excavations from this period and the limited paleopathological analysis of the sites excavated have contributed to our current lack of understanding regarding the impact of industrialization on the prevalence of rickets on the French population. Suggestions for further work The FMHL data needs to be homogenized and osteoarchaeological collections need to be restudied with a common protocol focusing on signs of vitamin D deficiency.