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Hydration, Lactation, and Child Health Outcomes in Yucatec Maya


Amanda Veile, Sunny Asaf, Erik Otárola-Castillo, Karen L Kramer


We examine the ways that water supply shapes lactation strategies and child morbidity patterns in Yucatec Maya subsistence maize farmers in México. We outline the history of Maya water use, with a focus on one subsistence farming com- munity in northern Campeche. Prior to the community’s founding in the early twen- tieth century, the Maya lived in small family units near sartenejas (water that collects in natural limestone basins). After the community was established around an abandoned hacienda, women retrieved water by hand from a central well. A water pump was then built in the late 1970s, increasing the efficiency of water col- lection and decreasing the energetic burden of women. In the early 2000s, water lines were extended from the pump to each house. We demonstrate here that water access and storage still pose challenges to the Maya farmers. We describe these challenges, and then analyze relationships between water access and storage prac- tices on Maya breastfeeding practices and child morbidity outcomes. 

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Last Updated: 3/24/21