University of Oulu

Väre, Tiina, Alison J.T. Harris, Mikko Finnilä, and Kerstin Lidén. “Breastfeeding in Low-Income Families of the Turn of the 19th-Century Town of Rauma, Southwestern Finland, According to Stable Isotope Analyses of Archaeological Teeth.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 44 (August 2022): 103521.

Breastfeeding in low-income families of the turn of the 19th-century town of Rauma, Southwestern Finland, according to stable isotope analyses of archaeological teeth

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Author: Väre, Tiina1; Harris, Alison J.T.2; Finnilä, Mikko3;
Organizations: 1Archaeology, History, Culture and Communications, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Archaeology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada
3Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, Medical Faculty, University of Oulu, Finland
4Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-02


We explore breastfeeding practices among low-income families in the late 18th to early 19th-century town of Rauma in Southwestern Finland. The breastfeeding practices in the area of the current nation of Finland (at the time belonging to first Sweden and then Russia) had been under debate. While in certain regions artificial infant feeding was common and was linked to high infant mortality, breastfeeding was also known to be practiced in certain regions of Finland. To explore this, we analyzed the δ15N and δ13C values in collagen of horizontally cut dentin segments of permanent first molars (M1; n = 7) collected from 19th century human skeletal remains from the deconsecrated Holy Trinity churchyard excavated in 2016. The resulting isotopic profiles were similarly patterned across the seven individuals. The emerging pattern revealed a period of exclusive breastfeeding during approximately the first six months of life, followed by weaning until the latter half of the second year. We further investigated diet during mid-childhood by comparing the stable isotope ratios in collagen of the M1 and premolar roots. This comparison suggested that the mid-childhood diets may have contained more plant-based foods than those consumed earlier in childhood.

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Series: Journal of archaeological science. Reports
ISSN: 2352-409X
ISSN-E: 2352-4103
ISSN-L: 2352-409X
Volume: 44
Article number: 103521
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103521
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
116 Chemical sciences
Funding: TV was funded by the Academy of Finland (grand number 323428) and Eino Jutikkala Foundation. AJTH is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 323428
Detailed Information: 323428 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (