Breastfeeding in Prehistory
DOI link for Breastfeeding in Prehistory
Breastfeeding in Prehistory book
This chapter examines the evidence for breastfeeding practices in the window of time between that of our hominid ancestors and earliest recorded history. It explores the possibility that varying patterns of infant feeding may have been important determinants of early childhood morbidity and mortality in prehistoric times. As with paleonutrition in general, there are both direct and indirect methods available that can provide clues about breastfeeding patterns in prehistory. The chapter focuses on the synthesis of a number of sources of information, ranging from the highly technical and little known to more general and widely known ethnographic analogy. Two methods will be introduced that have the potential to provide some useful information on breastfeeding practices, but have not yet been applied to prehistoric populations. These are the use of data on lactose intolerance and demography. A synthesis of information from as many sources as possible should provide a clearer picture of breastfeeding practices in prehistory.