The toddler, who was an Austrian count's descendent, died from a vitamin D deficiency brought on by a lack of sunshine, according to CT scans of the child's mummies.
According to a recent research, a "virtual autopsy" of an infant's mummified bones discovered in an Austrian family mausoleum suggests that the toddler perished from a lack of sunshine.
The little boy, thought to be Reichard Wilhelm, was born in the Renaissance (between the 14th and the 17th centuries) and died when he was just 10 to 18 months old. He was the first-born child of a Count of Starhemberg, a renowned member of the Austrian aristocracy. However, despite his luxurious upbringing, a group of German researchers came to the conclusion that he suffered from "severe nutritional deficiencies and a terribly early death from pneumonia" (opens in new tab).
The mummy, who was discovered with his left hand draped over his belly and was clothed in a hooded silk garment, was subjected to a CT scan and radiocarbon dating by experts. The scans revealed rib abnormalities, typical indicators of undernutrition, which "points to rickets," according the research, which was published on October 26 in the journal Frontiers in Medicine (opens in new tab).
These abnormalities, known as rachitic rosaries, appear when knobs of rib bone start to resemble rosary beads as a result of a vitamin D deficit. The boy's soft tissues revealed that he was also overweight when he passed away, ruling out the likelihood that he had been malnourished.
According to lead author of the study and pathologist from the Academic Clinic Munich-Bogenhausen in Germany Andreas Nerlich, "the combination of obesity along with a severe vitamin deficiency can only be explained by a generally 'good' nutritional status along with an almost complete lack of sunlight exposure." We need to take another look at the upbringing of prior populations' high aristocracy infants.