Analysis of Age‐at‐Death Estimation Through the Use of Pubic Symphyseal Data*

Journal of Forensic Sciences (Impact Factor: 1.16). 04/2008; 53(3):558 - 568. DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00711.x


  The question of whether age parameters derived from an American population will reliably estimate age-at-death for East European skeletal populations is important since the ability to accurately estimate an individual’s age-at-death hinges on what standard is used. A reference sample of identified individuals with known ages-at-death from the regions of the Former Yugoslavia (n = 861) is used to determine the age structure of victims and serves as the prior in the Bayesian analysis. Pubic symphyseal data in the manners of Todd (Am J Phys Anthropol, 3 [1920], 285; Am J Phys Anthropol, 4 [1921], 1) and Suchey-Brooks (Am J Phys Anthropol, 80 [1986], 167) were collected for n = 296 Balkan males and females and for n = 2078 American males and females. An analysis of deviance is calculated using an improvement chi-square to test for population variation in the aging processes of American and East European populations using proportional odds probit regression. When males and females are treated separately, there is a significant association among females and the population (df = 1, chi-square likelihood ratio = 15.071, p = 0.001). New age estimates for Balkan populations are provided and are based on the calculated age distribution from the Gompertz-Makeham hazard analysis and the ages-of-transition. To estimate the age-at-death for an individual, the highest posterior density regions for each symphyseal phase are provided.

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    • "As stated previously, Bayesian analysis in forensic contexts requires that careful attention be paid to selection of a well-suited informative prior for estimation of ageat-death (Kimmerle et al., 2008b; Konigsberg et al., 2008). Konigsberg et al. (2008) remark that for an informative prior to be ''reasonable'' the prior (known) sample and target (unknown) sample should display similar sample compositions, e.g., the skeletal samples should show similar mortuary construction. "
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of research is demonstrating increased accuracy in aging from a relatively new method, transition analysis. Although transition analysis was developed for paleodemographic research, a majority of subsequent studies have been in the forensic arena, with very little work in bioarchaeological contexts. Using the Suchey-Brooks pubic symphysis phases, scored on a target sample of historic Italians from the island of Sardinia, we compare accuracy of aging between transition analysis combined with a Bayesian approach and the standard Suchey-Brooks age ranges. Because of the difficulty in identifying a reasonable informative prior for bioarchaeological samples, we also compared results of both an informative prior and a uniform prior for age estimation. Published ages-of-transition for the Terry Collection and Balkan genocide victims were used in conjunction with parameters generated from Gompertz hazard models derived from the priors. The ages-of-transition and hazard parameters were utilized to calculate the highest posterior density regions, otherwise known as “coverages” or age ranges, for each Suchey-Brooks phase. Each prior, along with the parameters, were input into cumulative binomial tests. The results indicate that the Bayesian approach outperformed the Suchey-Brooks technique alone. The Terry Collection surpassed the Balkans as a reasonable sample from which to derive transition analysis parameters. This discrepancy between populations is due to different within phase age-at-death distributions that reflect differences in aging between the populations. These results indicate bioarchaeologists should strive to apply a Bayesian analysis when aging historic and archaeological populations by employing an informative prior. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:259–265, 2012.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · American Journal of Physical Anthropology
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    • "Sex was determined by former was not preserved. Age-at-death was assessed on the basis of changes in the pubic symphysis (Brooks and Suchey, 1990; Kimmerle et al., 2008) or the auricular surface of the ilium (Schmitt, 2005), and when the pelvis was not preserved, using tooth wear (Lovejoy, 1985) or the obliteration of the ectocranial (Meindl and Lovejoy, 1985) and endocranial sutures (Acsadi and Nemeskeri, 1970). Subadult age-at-death was estimated from dental eruption (Ubelaker, 1978), measurement of long bone length (Maresh, 1970), and degree of ossifi cation and skeletal development (Scheuer and Black, 2000). "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012
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    • "Finally, transition analysis was also performed separately for each sex and each epiphysis in order to determine the age-at-transition distributions. Transition analysis is a parameter method for modelling the passage of individuals from a given developmental stage to the next higher stage in an ordered sequence [24] [25] "
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    ABSTRACT: The authors developed an original magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) staging system for epiphyseal fusion of growth plate maturation of the knee and evaluated its reliability and validity for age assessment of living individuals. A total of 290 MRI scans of the knee were reviewed retrospectively in patients aged from 10 to 30 years old (138 males, 152 females). Five original MRI stages were defined to assess the degree of maturation of the distal femoral and proximal tibial epiphyses. Intra-observer variability was excellent and inter-observer variability was good, demonstrating the reliability and the validity of this original MRI staging system. In both sexes, the changes of growth plates (proximal tibial or distal femoral) were associated with age (p<0.001). Our results agreed with classic data on skeletal maturation of the knee, with globally earlier maturation in females than in males, and also earlier maturation of the proximal tibial epiphysis than of the distal femoral epiphysis. MRI of the knee is an efficient non-invasive method of age assessment, without the disadvantage of X-ray exposure. Further studies with larger groups are needed to support our results.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Forensic science international
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