Article by Oths, Smith, Stein, and Landivar published in AJHB

A new article out by Dr. Kathy Oths, Hannah Smith (UA Master’s student), Max Stein (UA Ph.D. student) and Rodrigo Lazo Landivar titled  “A Decade of Rapid Change: Biocultural Influences on Child Growth in Highland Peru” has been published in the American Journal of Human Biology 

Click here to read: Oths Et Al 2017



In the past decade many areas of Peru have been undergoing extreme environmental, economic, and cultural change. In the highland hamlet of Chugur-pampa, La Libertad, climate change has ruined harvests and led to frequent periods of migration to the coast in search of livelihood. This biocultural research examines how the changes could be affecting the growth of children who maintain residence in the highlands.


Clinical records from the early 2000s were compared to those from the early 2010s. Charts were randomly selected to record anthropometric data, netting a sample of 75 children ages 0-60 months of age. Analysis of covariance was run to compare mean stature, weight, and BMI between cohorts. Percentage of children who fall below the <2SD threshold for z-scores for height and weight were compared by age and cohort.


A significant secular trend in growth was found, with children born more recently larger than those born a decade before. The effect is most notable in the first year of life, with the growth advantage attenuated by the age of 3 for height and age 4 for weight. While children were unlikely to be stunted from 0 to 3 years of age, 44% of the later cohort were stunted and 11% were underweight from 4 to 5 years of age.


Three possible explanations for the rapid shift are entertained: more time spent on the coast during gestation and early childhood, which may attenuate the effect of hypoxia on child growth; dietary change; and increased use of biomedicine