Considerable evidence supports the hypothesis that developmental enamel defects represent stress-induced growth disruptions. In this investigation, the relationship between different kinds of enamel defects and age at death is examined in the prehistoric Libben population from Ottawa County, Ohio. The sample consisted of the permanent dentitions of 143 individuals. Defects were classified based on the criteria of the Developmental Defects of Enamel (DDE) Index. The multifactorial age at death determinations of Lovejoy and coworkers (1977) were used in this analysis. Results reveal a significantly lower mean age at death for individuals with enamel defects vs. individuals with normal teeth. This pattern was clearly present for all defect types examined. No significant differences by sex were detected. The age-at-death distribution for individuals with normal teeth approximated the normal curve. The modal value was reached in the 35-40 year age class. The age-at-death distribution for individuals with enamel defects showed two peaks. The mode occurred in the 15-20 year age class, and the second, lower peak occurred in the 30-35 year age class. The early mortality of individuals with enamel defects may be related to biological damage to the immune system during prenatal or postnatal development.
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