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.
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.
A family study was conducted. Parents and offspring completed a demographic questionnaire, and digit ratios were calculated from photocopies of participants' hands.
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.
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.
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 emphasis 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.
Digit ratio (2D:4D) may be a sex-linked correlate of prenatal sex hormone exposure.
2D:4D was examined in a family design study of a general population sample.
Correlations for 2D:4D within parent-child dyads were more consistent with X- rather than Y-linkage.
There were no significant correlations between 2D:4D of mothers and fathers.
2D:4D correlated positively with age in children, and negatively with age in adults.