Isotope analysis: breastfeeding and weaning
For children one of the key moments in their lives refers to the passage that security made from breast milk to other foods. In prehistoric populations this should be an uncertain process mainly due to environmental conditions and hygienic these groups. In certain communities too early withdrawal of breast milk can cause diarrhea and other food allergies, as the digestive and immune systems are not fully formed.
Practical as breastfeeding or weaning age are cultural factors that often vary among populations but not within them. Examination of the stable isotopes of nitrogen (15N/14N) and carbon (13C/12C) of bones and teeth is very useful because these values are indicative of diet and / or trophic level occupied by the individual. The breastfed children will one trophic level above their mothers. While at birth are comparable to those o f the mother, while nursing the child d15N values are increasing and reach 2-3 ‰ placed above those of the mother. When you start weaning d15N values down to occupy the proper level in the food chain, depending on the origin of the proteins that form part of their diet. Therefore, the isotopic values allow us to provide information on the origin of additional proteins that begin to be introduced with weaning.