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Familial digit ratio (2D:4D): Associations in a general population sample from Wales

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gareth RichardsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: The relative length of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D) may be a sex-linked correlate ofprenatal androgen exposure. However, the nature of the sex-linkage is controversial, with evidence for both XandY-linkage of the 2D:4D phenotype.Aims: To examine transgenerational effects relating to sex-linkage. In addition, assortative mating on 2D:4D wasconsidered, as well as associations between 2D:4D and age and sex.Study design: A family study was conducted. Parents and offspring completed a demographic questionnaire, anddigit ratios were calculated from photocopies of participants' hands.Subjects: We recruited and phenotyped 585 individuals attending a cultural festival in Wales. 2D:4D informationwas available for 47 mother-son dyads, 70 mother-daughter dyads, 31 father-son dyads and 30 father-daughterdyads.Outcome measures: Correlations between 2D:4D of parents and children, as well as between mothers and fatherswere conducted. 2D:4D was also examined in relation to age and sex.Results and conclusions: There was a sex difference in 2D:4D (males < females). Within the dyads, there was asignificant positive correlation between mother and daughter 2D:4D, but no significant correlation betweenmother and son ratios, nor between father and offspring ratios. The overall pattern of correlations (with emphasison father-son dyads) was not supportive of Y-linkage. There was a positive correlation between 2D:4D andage in children, and a negative correlation between 2D:4D and age in adults, and no evidence of assortativemating. Our data are consistent with the notion of 2D:4D as a sexually-dimorphic, mildly age-sensitive, andtransgenerationally-transmitted trait that is more likely to be X- than Y-linked.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Richards G, Bellin W, Davies W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Early Human Development

Year: 2017

Volume: 112

Pages: 14-19

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 29/06/2017

Acceptance date: 20/06/2017

Date deposited: 05/07/2018

ISSN (print): 0378-3782

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6232

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2017.06.006


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