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Maternal grandmothers improve the nutritional status and survival of children in rural Gambia.

Sear, R. and Mace, R. and McGregor, I.A. (2000) 'Maternal grandmothers improve the nutritional status and survival of children in rural Gambia.', Proceedings of the Royal Society series B : biological sciences., 267 (1453). pp. 1641-1647.

Abstract

Hypotheses for the evolution of human female life–history characteristics have often focused on the social nature of human societies, which allows women to share the burden of childcare and provisioning amongst other members of their kin group. We test the hypothesis that child health and survival probabilities will be improved by the presence of kin using a longitudinal database from rural Gambia. We find that the only kin to improve the nutritional status of children significantly (apart from mothers) are maternal grandmothers, and that this is reflected in higher survival probabilities for children with living maternal grandmothers. There is also evidence that the reproductive status of the maternal grandmother influences child nutrition, with young children being taller in the presence of non–reproductive grandmothers than grandmothers who are still reproductively active. Paternal grandmothers and male kin, including fathers, have negligible impacts on the nutritional status and survival of children.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Kin selection, Child mortality, Menopause, Human social evolution.
Full text:PDF - Accepted Version (1294Kb)
Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2000.1190
Record Created:17 Jan 2011 11:43
Last Modified:17 Jan 2011 14:38

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