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Revista médica de Chile

versão impressa ISSN 0034-9887

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SILVA-PINTO, VERÓNICA; ARRIAZA, BERNARDO  e  STANDEN, VIVIEN. Spina bifida occulta associated with environmental arsenic exposure in a prehispanic sample from northern Chile. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2010, vol.138, n.4, pp.461-469. ISSN 0034-9887.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0034-98872010000400010.

Background: The Camarones River Valley, located in the extreme north of Chile, is characterized by high environmental arsenic levels and an arid desert. It has been inhabited by humans for the past 7,000 years. Evidence exists for chronic arsenic poisoning in both prehispanic and present populations residing in the area. Chronic arsenic exposure causes multi-systemic problems and can induce congenital malformations, in particular neural tube development defects such as spina bifda. Aim: To study the prevalence of spina bifda among prehispanic mummies of the area. Material and Methods: Onehundred and twenty prehistoric adult individuals were analyzed for evidence of spina bifda occulta of the sacrum in skeletal samples from the sites of Camarones 8, Camarones 9, Azapa 140 and Lluta 54, held in repository at the Museo Universidad de Tarapacá de Arica- San Miguel de Azapa. A diagnosis was considered positive when at least S1, S2 or S3 were affected. As controls, mummies of individuals that resided in Lluta and Azapa valley, with a low arsenic exposure, were analyzed. Results: The frequency of spina bifda occulta among samples from the Camarones coast and Lluta and Azapa Valley were 13.5 and 2.4% respectively. Conclusions: Considering these were contemporaneous samples, and are believed to have had no other differences in diet or other factors, the differential exposures to arsenic could have produced the observed differences in spina bifda frequencies.

Palavras-chave : Arsenic; Mummies; Spina bifda occulta.

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