Sex, Parity, and Scars: A Meta-analytic Review

Clare McFadden, Marc F. Oxenham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to identify whether a female has been pregnant or has given birth has significant implications for forensic investigations and bioarcheological research. The meaning of “scars of parturition,” their causes, and their significance are a matter of contention, with a substantial literature of re-evaluations and tests of the relationship between pelvic scarring and parity. The aim of this study was to use meta-analytic techniques (the methodological approach) to test whether pelvic scarring, namely dorsal pubic pitting and the preauricular groove, is a predictor of parity and sex. Meta-analyses indicated that neither dorsal pubic pitting nor the preauricular groove are predictors of parity status, while dorsal pubic pitting is a moderate predictor of sex. A weak relationship between dorsal pubic pitting and parity was identified, but this is believed to be a product of the moderate relationship with sex. This calls into question whether any causal relationship between parity and pelvic scarring exists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of forensic sciences
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • forensic anthropology
  • forensic science
  • parity estimation
  • parturition
  • pregnancy
  • sex estimation


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