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Bone Mineral Density and Adult Age Estimation in Forensic Anthropology

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $130,242)

Estimating the age-at-death of individuals represented only by skeletonized human remains is a fundamental aspect of forensic anthropological casework. Traditionally, forensic anthropologists utilize macroscopic features of the skeleton to arrive at these age-at-death estimates; however, in many instances the most common age indicators are absent or can only be used to arrive at broad, forensically useless age estimates. In addition, forensic anthropologists have difficulty in accurately and precisely estimating age-at-death in individuals older than fifty years due to variation in the aging process. In order to rectify these shortcomings, several researchers have proposed that bone mineral density (BMD) is a useful predictor of age-at-death in forensic anthropological contexts. The purpose of this proposal is to test and refine recently developed methodologies by utilizing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The NHANES dataset contains BMD data on 6,517 individuals and provides an ideal dataset in which existing age-at-death estimation methodologies can be validated. The NHANES BMD dataset also provides data from areas of the skeleton which may be useful in instances when human skeletons are fragmented or altered by postmortem processes. This project will develop new user-friendly approaches for estimating age-at-death from BMD from a robust dataset reflective of the population in the United States. Following data analysis, a website will be developed which will provide practitioners a way to utilize BMD data for age-at-death estimation. This website will be available to the forensic science community to aid practitioners with age-at-death estimation. Further, project results will be disseminated via presentations at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Meeting; as well as via publications written for major forensic science peer-reviewed journals. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF
Date Created: September 27, 2018