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Little, Michael A.; Gray, Sandra J.; & Leslie, Paul W. (1993). Growth of Nomadic and Settled Turkana Infants of Northwest Kenya. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 92(3), 273-289.


Turkana tribespeople reside in a semi-arid savanna ecosystem in northwest Kenya. For over a decade, Ngisonyoka Turkana nomads have been studied within a multidisciplinary framework that embraces ecology, anthropology, and human population biology. Original research objectives of the South Turkana Ecosystem Project were to study nomads longitudinally and within the context of the dry savanna ecosystem. These objectives have been expanded to incorporate settled Turkana who were nomads in the recent past, but who, for a variety of reasons, have taken up a life of sedentary cultivation. The research described here focused on comparisons of growth patterns of nomadic and settled infants from birth to 24 months of age. Infants were measured (recumbent length, weight, head circumference, arm and calf circumference, and selected skinfolds) in 1989 and 1990. Settled infants were slightly longer, but nomadic infants were heavier and fatter. Head circumferences were the same. Some variation was observed by season and year of measurement (from comparative surveys). Both groups showed pronounced weight faltering after 6 months of age when compared with U.S. NCHS reference values. Head circumference faltering was moderate and recumbent length faltering was only slight after 12 months of age. Comparisons of Turkana infant growth in the two populations can contribute indirectly to a better understanding of infant nutritional status, probable morbidity, and other factors, some of which may be linked to female reproduction.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Physical Anthropology


Little, Michael A.
Gray, Sandra J.
Leslie, Paul W.