Kathy Dettwyler

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Dr. Katherine A. Dettwyler is an anthropology professor at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania and an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. She is also a lecturer, author and breastfeeding advocate.

Dr. Dettwyler is best known for her work studying the duration of breastfeeding as it relates to other mammals, primarily primates. According to her research, the natural age of weaning is 2 1/2 to 7 years old as determined by weight gain, length of gestation, dental eruption and other factors.

Life and career

Prior to Millersville University, she was an assistant professor and professor at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas in the Anthropology department for 14 years (and granted tenure), and the assistant to the Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association for 2 years.

Through the 1990s she served as a nutritional anthropologist to a number of organizations providing nutrition education in Mali, while performing field research there.

In 1998 she was invited to be a member of the Health Advisory Board of the Professional Advisory Council of La Leche League International, a position she retained for the 5 year term.

In 1999 Dr. Dettwyler was diagnosed with breast cancer.



  • Reflections on Anthropology: A Four-Field Reader (2003) ISBN 0-0724-8598-1 - co-editor with Vaughn M. Bryant
  • Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives (1995) ISBN 0-2020-1192-5 - co-editor with Patricia Stuart-Macadam
  • Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa (1994) ISBN 0-8813-3748-X - 1995 Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Society

Selected academic journal articles

  • When to Wean: Biological Versus Cultural Perspectives. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 47(3):712-723. 2004.
  • Can Paleopathology Provide Evidence for "Compassion"? American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 84(4):375-384. 1991.
  • Styles of Infant Feeding: Parental/Caretaker Control of Food Consumption in Young Children. American Anthropologist, 91(3):696-703. September 1989.

External links