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Ref ID: 30134
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Fuller, B. T.
Fuller, J. L.
Harris, D. A.
Hedges, R. E. M.
Title: Detection of breastfeeding and weaning in modern human infants with carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios
Date: 2006
Source: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Abstract: Carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) stable isotope ratios were longitudinally measured in fingernail and hair samples from mother-infant pairs where infants were exclusively breastfed (n ¼ 5), breast- and formula-fed (n ¼ 2), or exclusively formulafed (n ¼ 1) from birth. All exclusively breastfed infants had a dual enrichment in carbon (1%) and nitrogen (2–3%) when compared to maternal values. In contrast, breast- and formula-fed subjects had reduced enrichments compared to exclusively breastfed subjects, and the exclusively formula-fed infant showed no increase in d13C or d15N values. This finding of a carbon trophic level effect in breastfeeding infants suggests that 13C-enrichments of approximately 1% in archaeological populations are not necessarily the result of the consumption of C4-based weaning foods such as maize or millet. During the weaning process, the d13C results for breastfed infants declined to maternal levels more rapidly than the d15N results. This suggests that d13C values have the potential to track the introduction of solid foods into the diet, whereas d15N values monitor the length of time of breast milk consumption. These findings can be used to refine the isotopic analysis of breastfeeding and weaning patterns in past and modern populations.
Date Created: 1/4/2007
Volume: 129
Number: 2
Page Start: 279
Page End: 293