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Abstract

This paper examines the prevalence of rickets, or vitamin D deficiency, in the subadult skeletal remains from the burial vaults of the Spring Street Presbyterian Church of New York City. The burial vaults of the church were active from approximately 1820–1846 and contain the remains of at least 86 subadults (minimum number of individuals count [MNI] of left tibiae). Over 34% of the subadult tibiae in this collection display pathology consistent with vitamin D deficiency. Since vitamin D is acquired through access to sunlight and specific foods, a high rate of rickets can give clues about living conditions, parenting strategies, and children’s behavior in this population. The urbanizing landscape of early 19th-century New York City and the associated cultural changes make this an interesting case study for exploring the relationship between biology and the environment in children’s lives.

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