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Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Alt C.,University of Potsdam | Staub K.,University of Zürich | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Groth D.,University of Potsdam
Anthropologischer Anzeiger | Year: 2014

Results: In 1884-1891, in 1908-1910, and in 2004-2009, 1st, 2nd and 3rd order neighboring districts significantly correlate in height (p < 0.01). The correlations depend on the order of connectedness, they decline with increasing distance. Short stature districts tend to have short, tall stature districts tend to have tall neighbors. Random network analyses suggest direct road effects on height. Whereas in 1884-1891, direct road effects were only visible between 1st order neighbors, direct road effects extended to 2nd and 3rd in 1908-1910, and in 2004-2009, also to 4th order neighbors, and might reflect historic improvements in transportation. The spatial correlations did not significantly change when height was controlled for goiter (1884-1889) and for median per capita income (2006), suggesting direct road effects also in goiter-allowed-for height and income-allowed-for height.Background: Human populations differ in height. Recent evidence suggests that social networks play an important role in the regulation of adolescent growth and adult height. We further investigated the effect of physical connectedness on height.Material and methods: We considered Switzerland as a geographic network with 169 nodes (district capitals) and 335 edges (connecting roads) and studied effects of connectedness on height in Swiss conscript from 1884-1891, 1908-1910, and 2004-2009. We also created exponential-family random graph models to separate possible unspecific effects of geographic vicinity.Conclusion: Height in a district depends on height of physically connected neighboring districts. The association decreases with increasing distance in the net. The present data suggest that people can be short because their neighbors are short; or tall because their neighbors are tall (community effect on growth). Psycho-biological effects seem to control growth and development within communities that go far beyond our current understanding of growth regulation. © 2014 E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Stec K.,University of Potsdam | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Meigen C.,Deutsches Zentrum fur Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen | Van Buuren S.,TNO
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2016

Objectives: To reanalyze the between-population variance in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), and to provide a globally applicable technique for generating synthetic growth reference charts. Methods: Using a baseline set of 196 female and 197 male growth studies published since 1831, common factors of height, weight, and BMI are extracted via Principal Components separately for height, weight, and BMI. Combining information from single growth studies and the common factors using in principle a Bayesian rationale allows for provision of completed reference charts. Results: The suggested approach can be used for generating synthetic growth reference charts with LMS values for height, weight, and BMI, from birth to maturity, from any limited set of height and weight measurements of a given population. Conclusion: Generating synthetic growth reference charts by incorporating information from a large set of reference growth studies seems suitable for populations with no autochthonous references at hand yet. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Staub K.,University of Zürich | Groth D.,University of Potsdam
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Year: 2016

Recent evidence suggests clustering of human body height. We want to assess the consequences of connectedness in a spatial network on height clustering in an artificial society.Subjects/Methods:We used an agent-based computer modelling technique (Monte Carlo simulation) and compared simulated height in a spatial network with characteristics of the observed geographic height distribution of three historic cohorts of Swiss military conscripts (conscripted in 1884-1891; 1908-1910; and 2004-2009).Results:Conscript height shows several characteristic features: (1) height distributions are overdispersed. (2) Conscripts from districts with direct inter-district road connections tend to be similar in height. (3) Clusters of tall and clusters of short stature districts vary over time. Autocorrelations in height between late 19th and early 21st century districts are low. (4) Mean district height depends on the number of connecting roads and on the number of conscripts per district. Using Monte Carlo simulation, we were able to generate these natural characteristics in an artificial society. Already 5% height information from directly connected districts is sufficient to simulate the characteristics of natural height distribution. Very similar observations in regular rectangular networks indicate that the characteristics of Swiss conscript height distributions do not so much result from the particular Swiss geography but rather appear to be general features of spatial networks.Conclusions:Spatial connectedness can affect height clustering in an artificial society, similar to that seen in natural cohorts of military conscripts, and strengthen the concept of connectedness being involved in the regulation of human height. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


PubMed | University of Bamberg, University of Zürich, Aschauhof and University of Potsdam
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Anthropologischer Anzeiger; Bericht uber die biologisch-anthropologische Literatur | Year: 2015

Human populations differ in height. Recent evidence suggests that social networks play an important role in the regulation of adolescent growth and adult height. We further investigated the effect of physical connectedness on height.We considered Switzerland as a geographic network with 169 nodes (district capitals) and 335 edges (connecting roads) and studied effects of connectedness on height in Swiss conscript from 1884 - 1891, 1908 - 1910, and 2004 - 2009. We also created exponential-family random graph models to separate possible unspecific effects of geographic vicinity.In 1884 - 1891, in 1908 - 1910, and in 2004 - 2009, 1(st), 2(nd) and 3(rd) order neighboring districts significantly correlate in height (p < 0.01). The correlations depend on the order of connectedness, they decline with increasing distance. Short stature districts tend to have short, tall stature districts tend to have tall neighbors. Random network analyses suggest direct road effects on height. Whereas in 1884 - 1891, direct road effects were only visible between 1(st) order neighbors, direct road effects extended to 2(nd) and 3(rd) in 1908 - 1910, and in 2004 - 2009, also to 4(th) order neighbors, and might reflect historic improvements in transportation. The spatial correlations did not significantly change when height was controlled for goiter (1884 - 1889) and for median per capita income (2006), suggesting direct road effects also in goiter-allowed-for height and income-allowed-for height.Height in a district depends on height of physically connected neighboring districts. The association decreases with increasing distance in the net. The present data suggest that people can be short because their neighbors are short; or tall because their neighbors are tall (community effect on growth). Psycho-biological effects seem to control growth and development within communities that go far beyond our current understanding of growth regulation.


PubMed | University of Bamberg, Deutsches Zentrum fur Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, TNO, Aschauhof and University of Potsdam
Type: Journal Article | Journal: American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council | Year: 2016

To reanalyze the between-population variance in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), and to provide a globally applicable technique for generating synthetic growth reference charts.Using a baseline set of 196 female and 197 male growth studies published since 1831, common factors of height, weight, and BMI are extracted via Principal Components separately for height, weight, and BMI. Combining information from single growth studies and the common factors using in principle a Bayesian rationale allows for provision of completed reference charts.The suggested approach can be used for generating synthetic growth reference charts with LMS values for height, weight, and BMI, from birth to maturity, from any limited set of height and weight measurements of a given population.Generating synthetic growth reference charts by incorporating information from a large set of reference growth studies seems suitable for populations with no autochthonous references at hand yet.


Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Lehmann A.,University of Potsdam | Scheffler C.,University of Potsdam
Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey | Year: 2012

Objective: The age of menarche is usually considered to be affected by nutritional, health-related, social, and economic factors and has significantly decreased since the mid-19th century. The present study was performed to investigate whether the timing of menarche paralleled the general acceleration of physical development, or whether this pattern differed. Study Design: In all, 30 German studies on menarcheal age (n = >200) since 1848 were collected. Frequency distributions were analyzed. Results: During the second half of the 19th and the early 20th century, mean menarcheal age decreased from 18 to 12-13 years in Europe. Yet, the data fail to support the conventional hypothesis that menarcheal age mainly depends on nutritional, health, and economic factors. Conclusions: We suggest that later than usual menarche may not necessarily be regarded as a physical illness, but in view of the apparently physiological delay of menarche in the 19th century, may be viewed as "collective social amenorrhea." Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists and Family Physicians. Learning Objectives: After participating in this CME activity, physicians should be better able to evaluate menarche as an indicator of developmental tempo in both historical and modern settings, compare menarche in healthy mid-19th century girls with menarche in average modern girls, and assess the marked sensitivity of full pubertal development to environmental circumstances. © 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Lehmann A.,University of Potsdam | Scheffler C.,University of Potsdam | Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof
Anthropologischer Anzeiger | Year: 2010

Ample literature describes the history of the association between the advances in the health and wealth of people, and mortality rates, life expectancy and adult height. Twentynine German studies with n > 200 subjects published since 1848 on menarcheal age, were reanalyzed, and 101 studies from various other European and non-European countries. On average, mean age at menarche declined since the mid-19th century. Historic urban samples tended to decline earlier than rural groups, upper class women earlier than working class women. In Germany, minimum values for the age at menarche were seen already between the two World Wars (Leipzig 12.6 years in 1934, Halle 13.3 years in 1939). Values for mean age and SD for age at menarche were strongly associated. With improving historic circumstances, the two parameters declined in parallel. The standard deviation for menarcheal age dropped from over 2.5 years in mid- 19th century France to little more or even less than 1 year in most modern countries. In the German studies the correlation between menarcheal age and SD was almost complete with r = 0.96 (y = 0.35x -3.53). Similar associations between mean age at menarche and SD for age were found in other European countries. The obvious and immediate effects of historic events on menarcheal age, and particularly on the age distribution, indicate that menarche is a sensitive indicator of public health and wealth, and may be an appropriate estimator for the socio-economic background of historic populations. © 2010 E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


Scheffler C.,University of Potsdam | Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2014

Objectives: Modern human life style has led to significant decrease in everyday physical activity and bipedal locomotion. It has previously been shown that skeletal robustness (relative elbow breadth) is associated with daily step counts. The aim of the study was to investigate whether also other skeletal measures, particularly pelvic breadth may have changed in recent decades. Methods: We re-analyzed elbow breadth, pelvic breadth (bicristal), and thoracic depth and breadth, of up to 28,975 healthy females and 28,288 healthy males aged 3-18 years from cross-sectional anthropological surveys performed between 1980 and 2012 by the Universities of Potsdam and Berlin, Germany. Results: Relative elbow breadth (Frame index) significantly decreased in both sexes since 1980 (<0.001). The trend toward slighter built was even more pronounced in absolute and relative pelvic breadth. In contrast, equivalent changes of parts of the skeletal system that are not involved in bipedal locomotion such as thoracic breadth, thoracic depth, and the thoracic index were absent. Conclusions: The present investigation confirms the decline in relative elbow breadth in recent decades. Analogue, but even more pronounced changes were detected in pelvic breadth that coincides with the modern decline in upright locomotion. The findings underscore the phenotypic plasticity of humans while adapting to new environmental conditions. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:590-597, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


PubMed | Aschauhof
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The international journal of biostatistics | Year: 2012

Child growth is characterised by increases in height, and increases in maturational status. Functional data analysis provides a tool to separate these two sources of variation (registration) and differentiates between the variation in maturational tempo (temporal, or phase variation) and the variation in height (amplitude variation). We extended this concept by combining Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and the Maximum Likelihood Principle. Longitudinal data on height were obtained from two large growth studies from Lublin, Poland, and Zurich, Switzerland, with altogether 361 children. Variation in amplitude monotonically rises with age; variation in phase peaks during puberty. During mid-puberty, phase variation is large and explains up to 40 percent of total height variance in girls, and up to 50 percent in boys. Eight amplitude and 4 phase components appeared biologically significant. The largest amplitude component explained 91% of the amplitude variance and is characterised by an almost horizontal pattern. The largest phase component explained 66% (boys) and 63% (girls) of phase variance, rises throughout childhood and reaches up to 0.85 years in adolescent boys, and up to 0.75 years in adolescent girls. Phase components significantly correlated with the clinical signs of puberty. The combination of PCA and the Maximum Likelihood Principle provides a new, powerful and automatic tool for growth modelling that includes estimates of future growth, adult stature and developmental tempo. Preliminary results indicate that this approach can be used for automatised screening purposes.


PubMed | Aschauhof
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Obstetrical & gynecological survey | Year: 2012

The age of menarche is usually considered to be affected by nutritional, health-related, social, and economic factors and has significantly decreased since the mid-19th century. The present study was performed to investigate whether the timing of menarche paralleled the general acceleration of physical development, or whether this pattern differed.In all, 30 German studies on menarcheal age (n = >200) since 1848 were collected. Frequency distributions were analyzed.During the second half of the 19th and the early 20th century, mean menarcheal age decreased from 18 to 12-13 years in Europe. Yet, the data fail to support the conventional hypothesis that menarcheal age mainly depends on nutritional, health, and economic factors.We suggest that later than usual menarche may not necessarily be regarded as a physical illness, but in view of the apparently physiological delay of menarche in the 19th century, may be viewed as collective social amenorrhea.Obstetricians & Gynecologists and Family Physicians.After participating in this CME activity, physicians should be better able to evaluate menarche as an indicator of developmental tempo in both historical and modern settings, compare menarche in healthy mid-19th century girls with menarche in average modern girls, and assess the marked sensitivity of full pubertal development to environmental circumstances.

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