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Ann Hum Biol. 2016;43(2):107-14. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2016.1146333. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Power and pollutant exposure in the context of American Indian health and survival.

Author information

a Department of Anthropology , University at Albany, SUNY , Albany , NY 12222 , USA ;
b Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics , University at Albany, SUNY , Albany , NY 12222 , USA ;
c Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, University at Albany, SUNY , Albany , NY 12222 , USA ;
d Department of Sociology , University at Albany, SUNY , Albany , NY 12222 , USA.



American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) are a highly diverse group in terms of culture and language, but share a history of oppression and attempted extermination that has left many with a legacy of poverty and poor health. Cultural and biological survival are important issues for many AI/AN groups.


Using US criteria, AI/AN groups are more likely to be poor. The US National Center for Health Statistics reports that US AI/ANs have higher mortality and morbidity rates than the US population. While all groups racially defined by the US National Center for Health Statistics have been experiencing a decline in fertility since 1983, AI/ANs seem to be suffering a substantially greater and earlier decline in fertility. Given the importance of fertility in the survival of AI/AN communities, it is important to identify the source of this decline.


A recent study of one AI/AN group living along the St. Lawrence River found that obesity and exposure to a particular group of polychlorinated biphenyls were the factors most highly associated with indicators of impaired fertility. Economic factors are often cited as reasons for fertility declines, however in this situation these other factors may have either primary or contributing roles.


If the associations with obesity and toxicant exposure are confirmed, intervening on these factors might be important steps in stemming continued declines in fertility.


American Indian; health; pollutant exposure; poverty

[Available on 2017-02-24]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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