Posts tagged: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development

Staff Finds: Osseous Development Rate Classification Charts

By , January 30, 2017
Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (aka “The Growth Study”), processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found male and female osseous development charts that were developed in 1943 by Vernette S. Vickers Harding, with the Harvard School of Public Health.  The chart is used to classify children into five categories of speed of osseous development, based on the epiphyses present at each age.  It’s a cumulative chart, so a child with a higher rating can be expected to have all of the epiphyses listed in the lower categories, up to and including his or her age.

Although the source of Harding’s data is unclear, the copyright year and information in her related publications make it likely that she used Growth Study data.  Even though the Growth Study records only contain occasional x-ray films, the records do include detailed x-ray examination and measurement records that were collected during the original study (which followed subjects from birth through 18 years).  This data is maintained alongside other forms of growth and measurement data, including raw and analyzed anthropometric measurement data, and progressive photographs taken of subjects throughout their first 18 years in 6-month intervals.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development were founded in 1930 by the Department of Maternal and Child Health, and follow-up studies continued through the 1980s.  You can find out more about the collection here.  The records are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Staff Finds: Teaching Charts from the HSPH Growth Study

By , May 25, 2016
Child Development Body Proportions Diagram, undated.

Child Development Body Proportions Diagram, undated. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development, processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found a collection of teaching charts, many of which were likely developed with data from the HSPH Growth Study and other contemporary longitudinal growth studies.  There is no indication of whether the visuals were used for classes in the school’s Department of Maternal and Child Health (where the study was located), or to accompany lectures at professional conferences and symposia.  Charts are often longitudinal by age and cover a variety of topics, including: growth and development; puberty and development of the reproductive system; blood counts; blood pressure; hormone levels; nutritional intake; and skin and tissue breadth.  Growth and development charts make up the majority of the images, covering: body proportions from fetus through 25 years; height and weight gain patterns; height increments for early, moderate, and late age of maximum growth; median and average weight and height gains by age; skeletal age; and height and weight percentile charts. All are undated, but the majority were likely created after 1957, by which point all subjects would have reached 18 years of age.  A selection of these visuals may be found below.

The Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development were founded in 1930 by the Department of Maternal and Child Health, under the direction of Harold Coe Stuart (1891-1976).  You can find out more about the collection here.  The records are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Staff Finds: Growth and Development Charts

By , March 31, 2016
Infant girls anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Infant girls anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found a variety of child growth and development charts while processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (also known as the Growth Study).  Many were created using data from the Harvard Growth Study, but the collection also contains charts that were likely developed by other organizations, collected as reference in the course of research.

The Growth Study was founded in 1930 by Harold Coe Stuart in the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, and included an initial study (birth through maturity) and multiple follow-up studies through the late 1980s.  Over 300 subjects were enrolled between 1930 and 1939, and of those 134 were followed through to maturity (18 years).  The study monitored a number of aspects of health and development; however, a major focus of the original study was the tracking of physical growth and development through anthropometric measurements, x-rays, and progressive somatotype photographs.  This data was then used to make standardized growth charts for distribution to physicians and researchers.  Subjects were primarily of North European ancestry and from the Boston area; while this allowed for a controlled study, it may have also limited the charts’ applicability to a wider population.

Stuart’s original male and female curves were distributed by Mead Johnson International, and charted weight, length, and head circumference for infants, and height and weight for children through age 12.  These charts were later translated into French for distribution in Canada, and potentially into other languages.  A letter by William M. Schmidt references a later percentile chart that was developed in the 1960s, covering birth through 18 years, although examples have not yet been found in the collection.  According to an article by de Onis and Yip, Stuart’s charts later became an international standard of reference when in 1966, the World Health Organization widely distributed a version with combined male and female data.

An earlier chart can be found in the collection that was developed in collaboration with the University of Iowa, in which Harvard data is displayed for years 0 through 5, and Iowa data is displayed for years 5 through 18.  The collection also contains: charts developed by the University of Iowa (covering years 4 through 18); Danish height and weight charts created through an unidentified study; and physical and social development charts (covering birth to 56 weeks), published by Ross Developmental Aids using data from an unidentified study.

Examples of the mentioned charts and related correspondence may be found below.

The records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Staff Finds: Family Physical Characteristics Trees

By , January 22, 2016
Family Physical Characteristics Three-Generation Tree, created for a subject during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. Subject name and number have been redacted.

Family Physical Characteristics Three-Generation Tree, created for a subject during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. Subject name and number have been redacted. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (also known as the Growth Study), Center processing staff recently found family trees depicting body shapes and sizes in subjects’ families, covering two to three generations.  These trees show individuals’ height, girth, and sex, while some also show whether men were broad-chested or broad-bellied.  The trees were drawn on graph paper in order to standardize the shapes and sizes of the symbols used to represent individuals.  A key to the symbols used may be found below.  It is unclear how this data was gathered (whether actual measurements were taken of the subjects’ parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, or whether the information was relayed to the investigator by the subject or his parents).

Anthropometric measurements (measurements of various dimensions of the body) were a major part of the original and follow-up studies.  Measurements were taken of the length and circumference of various body parts, tissue thicknesses, and subjects’ weights and heights, to study how subjects’ bodies developed and changed during childhood and throughout the course of their lives.  X-rays were also used to study osseous development, and progressive photographs were taken to study subjects’ posture and visual appearance.  These family trees appear to be one way in which this data was analyzed, in the context of how family histories relate to individual development.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

This data was also studied in relation to family illness histories.  Transparent overlays were made to layer illness data over some subjects’ trees, perhaps to visualize the impact of illness on inherited body type, or to trace the inheritance of various conditions in relation to body shape and size.

These trees are just one of many types of data and analysis that can be found in the Growth Study records.  The records are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services.

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