L'accouchement tragique de Lucy ? À propos de la mortalité maternofœtale de la préhistoire à l’époque médiévale

Translated title of the contribution: Lucy's fatal childbirth? About materno-foetal mortality in the ancient times

N. Armentano, D. Nociarová, M. Esqué, A. Isidro, A. Malgosa, P. Chene, Y. Coppens, G. Chene*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Skeletal remains of pregnant woman whit fetus still in the pelvic region are scarce in the archaeological record. We aimed to review the different cases of maternal and fetal death in the ancient times. Methods: A review of literature using Medline database and Google about mortality during pregnancy in Prehistory, Antiquity and middle age. The following key words were used: ancient times; paleopathology; immature fetus; medieval; pregnancy; mummies; Antiquity; maternal mortality. Results: Thirty articles were found and we added one personal unpublished case. There were 64 female skeletons with mainly infectious abnormalities (10 dental abscesses and 2 pneumoniae) followed by traumatic lesions (2 frontal fractures and 1 femur luxation). There were 48 fetal remains and 3 twins. We noted 8 obstructed labors (3 breech presentations, 4 transverse lies and one possible shoulder dystocia). Conclusions: The fact that there were only few cases of maternal deaths with fetal remains raises the questions of the cause of death and the relationship between death and obstetric disorders. Beside the underestimation of these archaecological cases, the reasons of both fetal and maternal death must be looking for among several diseases or anomalies of both or of one of them, related with poor environmental conditions (such as malnutrition and high morbidity from infections) and lack of care the mother and fetus need.

Translated title of the contributionLucy's fatal childbirth? About materno-foetal mortality in the ancient times
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologie Obstetrique Fertilite et Senologie
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


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