Morphofunctional Parameters of Students from Minsk in the Early 21th Century

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341015
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: schoolchildren, physical development, anthropometric and functional features, Minsk, Belarus, 21st century.

Abstract
In the course of research, the morphological and functional fea-tures of more than 1,100 students from Minsk were examined in order to monitor their physical development. Data were collected in two complex studies, the first in the academic years 1999/2000, and the second in 2012/2013. Three age groups of children and adolescents (8, 13 and 17-year-olds) were examined. The total number of students being 1,162. This complex anthropological research program included the monitoring of longitudinal, latitudinal and circumferential sizes of the body and head, the weight of the body, and the thickness of fat folds, etc. Functional feature indicators for blood pressure, pulse rate, and hand dynamometry were also examined together with one other most informative index – adaptational potential.
A comparison was carried out between the morphological and functional features observed in the Minsk students in 1999/2000 and in 2012/2013. This revealed subsequent signs of physical growth that reached statistically significant levels. Significant improvement was evident in the values of physical development in schoolchildren monitored in 2012/2013 relative to those monitored in 1999/2000. An increase in body length, in 8 and 13-year-olds, and body weight and chest circumference, in the children and teenagers of all the studied age groups, testified to an acceleration of growth processes. The character of changes in the functional parameters of the Minsk students included signs of optimization of the cardiovascular system, plus positive dynamics in adaptational potential, and a tendency towards increased hand force.
In 1999/2000 the students’ physical development was subjected to difficult environmental conditions (it was soon after the Chernobyl accident) in the context of low socio-economic well-being (during the collapse of the Soviet Union), which clearly had negative impacts on the morphofunctional status of the younger generation.
Later, in 2012/2013, amid positive changes in the country, the indicators of physical development in the schoolchildren of Minsk considerably improved.

Polina, N.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail: belantrop@tut.by

Changes in the Body Structures of the Urban Schoolchildren of Belarus Over Time

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341014
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: children of Belarus, Chernobyl, anthropometric indices of head, face and body changes over time.

Abstract
Within the framework of a large anthropometric research programme, head, face and body sizes of schoolchildren from Pinsk (the southern territory of Belarus) and Polotsk (the northern territory) were examined in the academic years of 1984/1985 (before the accident at the Chernobyl Atomic Electric Power Station in 1986) and 2002/2003; in Polotsk they were also examined in 2012/2013, in other words, 17 and 27 years after the event. Three specific age groups of both sexes were studied: 8-year-olds (after the first growth acceleration), 13-year-olds (after pubertal growth acceleration in girls and prepubertal growth in boys) and 17-year-olds (having reached their defini-tive body size). At the beginning of the 2000s, a poor acceleration of growth processes was observed in schoolchildren of both cities, combined with a tendency toward gracilization of the skeleton. Unfavorable ecological and socio-economic conditions from 1990 to 2003 negatively influenced the way children developed in prepubertal and pubertal periods. The improvement of socio-economic conditions in 2012 to 2013 was accompanied by improvements in the physical development of pupils, continuing growth acceleration, combined with gracilization of the skeleton.
A statistically significant reduction of the cephalic index (a process of debrachycephalisation) in combination with slight gracilization of the skeletal part of the face of schoolchildren in all age groups studied in the early 2000s continues to this day, both in the area of radiation control (Pinsk), and in an area that was conventionally clean, a more prosperous one in respect of ionizing radiation, in the northern territory of Belarus (Polotsk). The process of debrachycephalisation is clearly directed in time and is not determined by the gender or geographical location of the studied groups, it is part of microevolutional structural changes to the brain and skull, which may be an adaptive response of the forming body in modern populations due to increased pressure from a complex set of anthropogenic factors.

Salivon, I.
Polina, N.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail:belantrop@tut.by