Sweden has one of the world's most eminent and exhaustive records of statistical information on its population. As early as the eighteenth century, ethnic notations were being made in parish registers throughout the country, and by the early nineteenth century a specific category for the Sami population had been added to the forms used to collect data for the Tabellverket (National Population Statistics). Beginning in 1860, the Sami were also counted in the first official census of the Swedish state. Nonetheless--and in contrast to many other countries--Sweden today lacks separate statistical information not only about its sole recognized indigenous population but also about other ethnic groups. The present paper investigates Sweden's attempts to enumerate its indigenous Sami population prior to World War II and the cessation of ethnic enumeration after the war. How have the Sami been identified and enumerated? How have statistical categories been constructed, and how have they changed over time? The aim of this essay is not to assess the validity of the demographic sources. Instead the paper will explore the historical, social, and cultural factors that have had a bearing on how a dominant administrative structure has dealt with the statistical construct of an indigenous population.
Various workers, including T. D. Stewart, claim that the aboriginal Americas were relatively disease-free because of the bering Strait cold-screen, eliminating many pathogens, and the paucity of zoonotic infections because of few domestic animals. Evidence of varying validity suggests that precontact Americns had their own strains of treponemic infections, bacillary and amoebic dysenteries, influenza and viral penumonia and other respiratory diseases, salmonellosis and perhaps other food poisoning, various arthritides, some endoparasites such as the ascarids, and several geographically circumscribed diseases such as the rickettsial verruca (Carrion's disease) and New World leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis. Questionably aboriginal are tuberculosis and typhus. Accordingly, virtually all the "crowd-type" ecopathogenic diseases such as smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, measles, pertussis, polio, etc., appear to have been absent from the New World, and were only brought in by White conquerors and their Black slaves. My hypothesis is that native American medical care systems--especially in the more culturally advanced areas--were sufficiently sophisticated to deal with native disease entities with reasonable competence. But native medical systems could not cope with the "crowd-type" disease imports that struck Indian and Eskimos as "virgin-field" populations. Reanalysis of native population losses through a genocidal combination of diease, war, slavery and attendant cultural disruption by Dobyns, Cook and others strongly suggest that traditiona estimates underplayed the death toll by a factor of the general order of ten. This would make for an immediately pre-contact Indian population of some 90-111 million instead of the tradition 8-11 million. Evidence is growing that Indians may have been no more susceptible to new pathogens that are other "virgin soil" populations, and thus their immune systems need not be considered less effective than those in other people. Present-day high mortality rates in Indians of both continents from infectious disease imports may be more socioeconomic than anything else.
Life-history theory predicts a tradeoff between reproductive effort and lifespan. It has been suggested that this tradeoff is a result of reproductive costs accelerating senescence of the immune system, leading to earlier death. Longevity costs of reproduction are suggested for some human populations, but whether high reproductive effort leads to impaired immune function is unknown. We examined how reproductive effort affected postreproductive survival and the probability of dying of an infectious disease in women born in preindustrial Finland between 1702 and 1859. We found that mothers delivering twins had reduced postreproductive survival after age 65. This effect arose because mothers of twins had a higher probability of succumbing to an infectious disease (mainly tuberculosis) than mothers delivering singletons. The risk among mothers of twins of dying of an infectious disease was further elevated if mothers had started reproducing early. In contrast, neither female postreproductive survival nor the risk of succumbing to an infectious disease was influenced by the total number of offspring produced. Our results provide evidence of a long-term survival cost of twinning in humans and indicate that the mechanism mediating this cost might have been accelerated immunosenescence.
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Carl Peter Thunberg, a Swedish medical doctor and botanist who visited Japan in 1775 as a medical doctor attached to the Dutch Trade House in Dejima, Nagasaki, taught the treatment of syphilis using mercury water to Japanese doctors and interpreters. This therapy is based on the oral administration of a 0.014% solution of mercuric chloride and was published in 1754 by Gerard van Swieten in Vienna, who questioned the utility of the conventional salivation therapy. The dose was set taking safety into account. Kogyu Yoshio, a Japanese-Dutch interpreter, had already read about it in a book written by J. J. Plenck, when he was taught about the therapy by Thunberg. He recorded Thunberg's teachings in his book "Komohijiki", presenting details of various formulations, including a high-dose formulation. The mercury therapy was subsequently spread across the country by medical doctors who learned Western medicine through the Dutch. In the 1820's, Genshin Udagawa, who read a number of Western medical books, published books on Western drugs. In these books, G. Udagawa included precise information on "Swieten Yakushu-hu (medicated alcohol)", including information on the dosage, formulation, mode of usage, and precautions for use. The maximum dose of mercuric chloride established chloride established by van Swieten was included in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia up to its 5th edition.