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, 150 (11), 5119-24

Fingers as a Marker of Prenatal Androgen Exposure


Fingers as a Marker of Prenatal Androgen Exposure

Sheri A Berenbaum et al. Endocrinology.


Interest in biological substrates of sex-related variations in psychological and physiological characteristics has led to a search for biomarkers of prenatal hormone exposure that can be measured postnatally. There has been particular interest in digit ratio, the relative lengths of the second and fourth fingers (2D:4D), but its validity as a measure of prenatal androgen has not been established. We report the strongest evaluation of the value of 2D:4D as a biomarker for early androgen exposure. Individuals with 46,XY karyotype but no effective prenatal androgen exposure due to complete androgen insensitivity syndrome had digit ratios that were feminized: they were higher than those of typical men and similar to those of typical women. Nevertheless, the effect was modest in size, and there was considerable within-group variability and between-group overlap, indicating that digit ratio is not a good marker of individual differences in prenatal androgen exposure.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Right hand 2D:4D (open symbols) and left hand 2D:4D (filled symbols) for women with CAIS, control women, and control men. Each point represents an individual. Horizontal lines represent group means and group sds.

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