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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1993 Jan;90(1):59-75.

Differences in physical growth of Aymara and Quechua children living at high altitude in Peru.

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Department of Pediatrics, University Children's Hospital, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Physical growth of Amerindian children living in two Aymara and three Quechua peasant communities in the Andean highlands of southern Peru (altitude 3,810-3,840 m) was studied, taking into account differences in the microclimate, agronomic situation, and sociodemographic variables. Anthropometric measurements were taken in 395 children aged under 14 years of age in a sample of 151 families in these communities, who were surveyed for sociodemographic variables as well. Data on the land system were available for 77 families. In comparison with reference populations from the United States (NCHS) and The Netherlands, stature, weight, head circumference, and midupper arm circumference (but not weight for stature) in the sample children were reduced. Growth retardation increased after the age of 1 year. Stature and weight in the present sample were very similar compared with previously published data on growth of rural Aymara children living near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Head circumference, midupper arm circumference, and weight for stature were significantly larger in Aymara children compared with Quechua children. Land was significantly more fragmented in Aymara compared with Quechua families, but amount of land owned was not different. Perinatal and infant mortality was elevated in Aymara vs. Quechua communities. Most families in Aymara communities used protected drinking water. One Quechua community had a severe microclimate, grim economic outlook, and weak social cohesion. Children in this community showed significant reductions in weight and midupper arm circumference compared with their peers in the other communities. We conclude that (presumably nutritionally mediated) intervillage and Aymara-Quechua differences in childhood physical growth existed in this rural high-altitude population in Peru and were associated with microclimate and the village economy, sociodemographic factors, and differences in the land system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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