Wide Variation Seen in Pelvic Shapes: Study

There is significant racial variation in the structure of the human pelvis, according to a study that could change how babies are birthed.

Doctors' understanding of the pelvis has long been based on anatomical studies of people of European descent, but researchers measured 348 skeletons from around the world and found a wide range of pelvic shapes, The New York Times reported.

That was "remarkable and unexpected," according to the authors of the study published Oct. 29 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In general, people of sub-Saharan origin had the deepest pelvises back-to-front and Native Americans had the widest side-to-side. Europeans, North Africans and Asians were in the middle of the range, The Times reported.

Since pelvic shape can be quite different, it's likely "that the birthing process is also highly variable," Helen Kurki, an anthropology professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, told The Times.

She said this study contradicts the belief "that there is one 'right' way to birth a baby," Kurki said, and indicates that might be better to take a a more individualized approach to childbirth.

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