The Black Death Improved The Health Of The Children Of The Survivors

Residents of Bergen perform the ‘Pfannenflicker’ dance which goes back to the 16th Century and was used to help bring artisans back into the villages after the Black Death. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The first Black Death plague which killed millions of people in medieval Europe was good for the health and longevity of generations following it, according to US research.

Nearly 600 skeletons from 1347-1351 were studied from London cemeteries to find out whether the deaths of frail people combined with rising living standards after the disease cleared resulted in a healthier post-epidemic population.

The researchers found the post-Black Death samples had a higher proportion of older adults, suggesting that survival may have improved following the epidemic.

Analysis indicated that overall mortality risks were lower in the post-Black Death population than before the epidemic.

Dr Sharon DeWitte from University of South Carolina says that despite repeated plague outbreaks and other disasters such as famines, the general population appears to have enjoyed a period of at least 200 years during which mortality and survival overall improved compared to the pre-Black Death conditions.

Scientists aren’t sure why people lived longer after the first black plague. Factors could include: better diet; better immunity to disease; and perhaps more people migrated to London.

The study, Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death, is published in the open access journal PLOS ONE

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.