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Biological status of Saint Petersburg women between 1940-2005: based on anthropometric data of newborns and their mothers

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 31-12-2010
Мир России. 2007.  Т. 16. № 1. С. 99-146. 
Тематический раздел:
This paper reveals the changes in life quality and health of Saint Petersburg population between 1940 and 2005 using data on height and weight of the newborns and their mothers. In his analysis the author relies on approach which was developing in human biology for the last 30 years. According to this approach environment factors are considered to crucially affect average human height, although it is also accepted that the influence of genetic factor is prevailing. The GDP per capita value usually predicts the average height in different countries on 67-77%. The average height of a given group can be regarded as a historical indicator for quantity and quality of nutrition consumed in childhood and adolescence, or an indicator for life conditions.
Using the data on stature and weight of women in childbirth and their newborns we conclude that after WW2 the biological status of Saint. Petersburg women had been steadily improving till the late 1960s. In the 1970s stagnation began. In the mid. 1980s it was followed by a crisis, which lasted till the end of 20th century. In the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21th century this tendency broke and the biological status started to worsen. Not only anthropometrical indicators point to a serious fall in the biological status of women between 1980-1994. Comparing with 1980-1984 there was a significant increase in the number of premature (1,9 times) and retarded (5,4 times) births during 1995-1999. There was also a rise in the number of pregnant women with anemia (16.4 times) and women having abnormal birth (2,3 times).
Life expectancy of the Saint Petersburg women peaked in 1964–1965 and reached 74 years. This level was maintained until 1986–1987 and began to decline after. In 2002–2005 the life span reached 72 years and in 1993, at the moment of the greatest decline, it fell down to 71 years.
The decrease in the biological status of women in the 1980s and 1990s resulted from the worsening of diet, decline in real incomes and wages. According to the official data in Saint Petersburg from 1991 to 1999 the buying power of incomes decreased by 2,4 times.
The following increase in income did not compensate its ten-year reduction: in 2000-2004 the income was below the level of 1994 by 8%, and the wages by 9%.
The comparison of anthropometrical indicators in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Russia as a whole allow us to extend the achieved results over the whole population of Russian Federation. According to the data for 1875-2005 Moscow and Saint Petersburg newborns were inferior to West-European and white American newborns both in stature and weight.
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