Biocultural perspectivas on women´s health

Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Apr;105(4):369-70.

Biocultural perspectivas on women´s health

(No authors listed for this article) (Editorial Review of a session on biocultural perspectives on women’s health in developing countries at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Seattle)

During the 1997 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a session was devoted to biocultural perspectives on women’s health in developing countries. The topics covered included female circumcision conducted as part of the traditional wedding ceremony of the Rendille people of Kenya and the deleterious effect of sociocultural factors such as acceptance of premarital sexual intercourse and early child-bearing on the health of adolescent girls in West Africa. A study in Bangladesh sought information on women’s health during pregnancy and lactation. Using 19,000 paired questionnaires and urine samples from 493 women representing all reproductive states, pregnancy-related sickness (such as nausea and vomiting) was correlated to hormone levels, maternal age, and fetal loss. Preliminary results contradict a popular belief that incidence of pregnancy-related sickness is associated with a lowered risk of early fetal loss. Another study in Bangladesh revealed that previous research indicating that women in Bangladesh experience menopause eight years sooner than US women was inaccurate. The two-year earlier onset of menopause found in Bangladesh is likely caused by stress-related anovulation. A preliminary literature review has also shown that Bangladeshi women lack significant amounts of phytoestrogens in their diet. Improved knowledge of biocultural factors is sought as a prerequisite for improving medical treatment in developed and developing countries.

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