NoBACKGROUND: Vitamin D deficiency rickets is associated with skeletal deformities including swollen rib junctions, bowing of the legs, and the flaring and fraying of the wrist and long-bone metaphyses. There is, however, scarce information on the direct effect of rickets on skeletal growth in either present or past populations. AIM: The study investigated the effect of vitamin D deficiency rickets on long-bone growth in two post-medieval skeletal populations from East London (Broadgate and Christ Church Spitalfields). Subsequently, inter-population growth variations in relation to non-specific environmental stress (dental enamel defects), industrialization, urbanization and socio-economic status during infancy (birth to 3 years) and early childhood (3-7 years) were examined. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Data on long-bone diaphyseal length dimensions and stress indicators of 234 subadults from Anglo-Saxon, late medieval and post-medieval archaeological skeletal samples were analysed using both linear and non-linear growth models. RESULTS: Rickets had no effect on the growth curves for any of the long bones studied. However, pronounced variations in growth between the four populations were noted, mainly during infancy. The diaphyseal length of long bones of Broadgate were significantly smaller-per-age than those of Spitalfields and the other samples up to the age of 4 years, and were associated with a high prevalence of enamel defects during early infancy. CONCLUSION: Socio-economic status, rather than urbanization, industrialization or rickets, was the central factor behind the observed differences in growth among the post-medieval populations. The observed inter-population growth variations were only significant during infancy
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