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

10 Aug 2017

Background The relative length of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D) may be a sex-linked correlate of prenatal androgen exposure. However, the nature of the sex-linkage is controversial, with evidence for both X- and Y-linkage of the 2D:4D phenotype. Aims To examine transgenerational effects relating to sex-linkage. In addition, assortative mating on 2D:4D was considered, 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, and digit ratios were calculated from photocopies of participants' hands. Subjects We recruited and phenotyped 585 individuals attending a cultural festival in Wales. 2D:4D information was available for 47 mother-son dyads, 70 mother-daughter dyads, 31 father-son dyads and 30 father-daughter dyads. Outcome measures Correlations between 2D:4D of parents and children, as well as between mothers and fathers were 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 a significant positive correlation between mother and daughter 2D:4D, but no significant correlation between mother and son ratios, nor between father and offspring ratios. The overall pattern of correlations (with em- phasis on father-son dyads) was not supportive of Y-linkage. There was a positive correlation between 2D:4D and age in children, and a negative correlation between 2D:4D and age in adults, and no evidence of assortative mating. Our data are consistent with the notion of 2D:4D as a sexually-dimorphic, mildly age-sensitive, and transgenerationally-transmitted trait that is more likely to be X- than Y-linked.