Fingers as a marker of prenatal androgen exposure

Sheri A. Berenbaum, Kristina Korman Bryk, Nicole Nowak, Charmian A. Quigley, Scott Moffat

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268 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5119-5124
Number of pages6
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology


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