Site code rew92 Palaeopathology pbr

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SITE CODE REW92 Palaeopathology PBR



Context Osteologist: R.N.R. Mikulski Date: 18/08/2005


Summary: REW92 4 represents an individual not older than 1 month at time of death. The individual appears to have suffered from a condition resulting in changes consistent with scurvy (vitamin C deficiency).

There appears to be some new bone plaque formation to the endocranial aspect of the frontal in the region of the right frontal boss. It is uncertain whether this is growth-related or not.
There is bilateral porosity/new bone evident to the ectocranial aspects of the squamous temporals and to the petrous portions also.
There is marked new bone deposition to the all aspects of the sphenoid and basisphenoid, with pitting evident also. The new bone formation appears particularly severe to the anterior aspects of the greater wings.
The endocranial aspect of the squamous occipital exhibits an area of porous new bone formation in the region of the internal occipital protuberance. The basioccipital also appears to exhibit pitting and thickening of the internal aspect through new bone deposition.
Both orbital rooves exhibit marked pitting, (especially the right side), consistent with marked cribra orbitalia. In addition, there is some bilateral porosity and thickening of the lateral margins of the orbits in the frontal bone.
There appears to be some irregular new bone deposition to the left zygomatic, both around the margin of the orbit and inferior aspect close to the zygomatico-maxillary junction.
Both sides of the maxilla exhibit marked pitting and porosity. This is especially severe posterior alveolar aspect in the right side. There is also marked pitting to the entire palate.
There is bilateral porous new bone to the mandibular bodies. The new bone deposition appears focussed on the lingual aspects of the mandibular rami, where there is also marked pitting; but extends along the bodies and onto the anterior aspects as well.
Scapulae: Both scapulae exhibit marked porous new bone deposition along the suprascapular fossae.

Vertebrae: Some porosity/new bone is evident to the dorsal aspects of some of the lumbar (?) neural arches.
Ribs: There is possible new bone to the rib shafts part6icularly to the anterior aspects of the sternal ends.
Humeri: Porous new bone to shafts of humeri (esp. distal anterior/posterior) & to inferior aspects of ilia.
Right femur: There is marked new bone formation to the lateral posterior aspect of the midshaft and to the anterior aspect of the distal shaft.
Additional observations:
There is evidence for new bone deposition to the shafts of the extant radii and ulnae as well as to the proximal tibiae.
There appears to be distinctive bilateral failure of the cortical bone formation to the buccal aspects of the mandibular rami, with consequent exposure of the trabeculae. It’s possible this is related to the changes which suggest a case of scurvy, although another alternative is a congenital/developmental defect.
The changes described appear to suggest a probable case of neonatal/early post-neonatal vitamin C deficiency or scurvy. The main evidence includes the widespread deposition of porous new bone in the skull and along the long bones; and in particular, the distinctive pitting observed in the maxilla and mandibular rami.
The very young age of the individual suggests that the neonate was either not being breast-fed at all or, possibly more likely, the mother was severely undernourished.
While scurvy is suggested as the most likely causative agent for the changes observed, the possibility of infection should not be ruled out.

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