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Abstract

Abstract

Evolutionary anthropological and ethnographic studies are used to develop a general conceptual framework for understanding prehistoric, historic, and contemporary variation in human lactation and complementary feeding patterns. Comparison of similarities and differences in human and nonhuman primate lactation biology suggests humans have evolved an unusually flexible strategy for feeding young. Several lines of indirect evidence are consistent with a hypothesis that complementary feeding evolved as a facultative strategy that provided a unique adaptation for resolving tradeoffs between maternal costs of lactation and risk of poor infant outcomes. This evolved flexibility may have been adaptive in the environments in which humans evolved, but it creates potential for mismatch between optimal and actual feeding practices in many contemporary populations.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.nutr.25.050304.092557
2007-08-21
2024-06-12
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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