Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article

Maternal deaths in medieval sweden: an osteological and life table analysis

Ulf Högberga1, Elisabeth Iregrena2, Claes-Henrik Sivena3 and Lennart Dienera4

a1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital of Umea

a2 Institute of Archaeology, Lund

a3 Department of Economics, University of Stockholm

a4 Tuberculosis Clinic of Stockholm


In a medieval population of Stockholm only three cases of maternal deaths were proved out of 330 burials of adult females, and only in one of the cases was a contracted pelvis found. However, life table analysis indicates a shorter life expectancy of females in the reproductive ages. This suggests a higher maternal mortality in the Middle Ages than in the 18th and 19th centuries in Sweden.

(Received February 19 1986)