Sources of Variations in Breastfeeding and Weaning Practices among Caribbean Populations

Author(s): Yadira Chinique De Armas; William Pestle

Year: 2017


Breastfeeding in humans is a biocultural process shaped by complex interactions of beliefs about health and nutrition, construction of childhood and parental identities, religious values, and lifestyle. While some studies have stated that the type of subsistence does not determine weaning ages in a population, these factors could have affected weaning food choices. This paper analyzes carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in bone collagen of four pre-colonial Caribbean populations: Paso del Indio (Puerto Rico) and Canímar Abajo, Cueva del Perico I and Cueva Calero (Cuba) to explore how the subsistence strategies affect the length of breastfeeding and weaning food choices that these Caribbean populations made in the past. Ages for the start and the end of weaning and possible food sources used during the weaning process were assessed using the bayesian probability model "Weaning Ages Reconstruction with Nitrogen isotopes" (WARN). The model suggested a major dietary change around two years of age for most populations. No direct correlation was found between the start of weaning and the availability of cultigens. However, populations with agriculture or horticultural practices weaned their children using foods with lower nitrogen isotopic values, which suggest that plants may have had an important role as weaning foods.

Cite this Record

Sources of Variations in Breastfeeding and Weaning Practices among Caribbean Populations. Yadira Chinique De Armas, William Pestle. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431810)


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min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16898