John T Manning and Bernhard Fink (2011)

Is low digit ratio linked with late menarche? Evidence from the BBC internet study

American Journal of Human Biology, 23(4):527-533.

 

Objectives:

Age at menarche (AAM) in the general population may be influenced by prenatal sex steroids. The ratio of the second and fourth digits (2D:4D) is a putative correlate of prenatal sex steroids, but the relationship of 2D:4D to AAM is controversial. Matchock ([2008]: Am J Hum Biol 20:487-489) has reported that right 2D:4D (but not left) was negatively related to AAM, but Helle ([2010a]: Am J Hum Biol 22:418-420) found no relationship. Here the association between 2D:4D, AAM, and self-reported rate of pubertal development (RPD) is considered.

Methods:

The sample consisted of self-measured finger lengths and AAM and RPD reported by women in the BBC internet study.

Results:

There were 70,658 white women who reported a mean (± SD) AAM of 12.54 (1.48) years. Right 2D:4D was negatively related to AAM and positively related to RPD. These relationships were independent of left 2D:4D, age and height. Between-country variation in right 2D:4D was also significantly related to AAM such that in countries with low 2D:4D women mean AAM was higher.

Conclusions:

In support of the findings of Matchock, right 2D:4D was found to be negatively related to AAM. In addition, right 2D:4D was positively related to RPD. In a sample of 19 countries, mean right 2D:4D was negatively correlated with mean national AAM. These findings suggest that women with high prenatal testosterone and low prenatal estrogen tend to show late menarche and slow pubertal development.

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