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Is maternal periconceptional smoking associated with 2D:4D digit ratio in their children?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2017

M. P. Velez*
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
T. E. Arbuckle
Population Studies Division, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
P. Monnier
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
W. D. Fraser
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sherbrooke University, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
*Address for correspondence: M. P. Velez, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada, K7L 3N6. (Email


The 2nd--4th finger ratio (2D:4D) has been proposed as a potential indicator of greater androgen exposure during fetal development. Maternal periconceptional smoking may alter the homeostasis of fetal androgens, which could in turn result in differential development of 2D:4Ds in utero. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of maternal periconceptional smoking (i.e. 1 year before through the first trimester of pregnancy) on the 2D:4D of children within The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) study. Maternal smoking history was obtained through questionnaires during the first trimester of pregnancy in 2001 women from 10 cities across Canada. The periconceptional smoking prevalence was 12%. A follow-up study was conducted to measure growth and development up to 5 years of age in a subsample of some 800 MIREC children (MIREC-CD Plus), and digital pictures of the ventral surface of both hands were obtained in mothers and children (2–5 years). The 2D:4D was calculated as the ratio of the 2nd and 4th fingers of each hand. Boys had lower mean 2D:4Ds compared with girls in both hands. Age and maternal 2D:4D were strong determinants of the children’s 2D:4D, however, the mean 2D:4D did not differ among children whose mothers had smoked during the periconceptional period compared with those who had not, irrespective of sex. In conclusion, we did not find an association between maternal periconceptional smoking and children’s 2D:4D, although the smoking prevalence was low.

Original Article
© Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2017 

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