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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2008 Sep;137(1):69-81. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20847.

Epidemiologic transition in an isolated indigenous community in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, TX 76402-0010, USA.


The objective of the present study is to analyze age-specific mortality in a rural indigenous community in the throes of a secular increase in size in the Valley of Oaxaca, southern Mexico, over 30 years, 1970-1999. Variation in mortality by age group was analyzed over time for evidence of an epidemiological transition. The seasonal rain pattern in the Valley of Oaxaca (83% from May through September) was evaluated for its relationship with mortality in wet and dry months. Mortality and causes of death changed markedly over the 30-year interval. Infant and preschool mortality, overall mortality, and causes of death changed from the 1970s through the 1990s. Prereproductive deaths (<15 years) predominated in the 1970s and were largely due to gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases, with periodic outbreaks of measles. Deaths of adults 65+ years predominated in the 1990s and were largely due to degenerative diseases usually associated with aging. The marked changes in age and causes of death over the three decades (epidemiologic transition from Stage I to Stage II) occurred concurrently with significant secular increases in body size in children, adolescents, and young adults, highlighting improved health and nutritional conditions in the community which is in early Stage II of the demographic transition. The demographic transition to Stage II is a leading indicator (15-25 years lag) for the onset of the secular trend, while the epidemiologic transition to Stage II is a predictor that the secular increase is in process in the study community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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