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Behav Neurosci. 2008 Apr;122(2):273-81. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.122.2.273.

Masculinized finger-length ratios of boys, but not girls, are associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48823-1116, USA.


Gonadal hormones may exert permanent organizational effects on sexually dimorphic finger-length ratios and sexually dimorphic behavior expressed in childhood attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study extended recent work examining associations between finger-length ratios (specifically, 2D:4D) and ADHD in a well-characterized, clinically diagnosed, community-recruited sample of boys and girls. A multistage, diagnostic procedure was utilized to identify 113 children with ADHD and 137 non-ADHD comparison children. Right-hand digit ratios showed significant mean differences by gender, as well as associations with ADHD diagnosis. Boys with ADHD had more masculinized digit ratios than control-group boys. More masculine right 2D:4D and 3D:4D ratios were correlated with parent- and teacher-rated inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms in boys but not in girls. Masculinized finger-length ratios were associated with hyperactive-impulsive and oppositional- defiant symptoms, but associations were largest with symptoms of inattention. It is concluded that prenatal, organizational effects of gonadal hormones may play a role in the development of ADHD and contribute to explaining sex differences in the prevalence rates of this childhood disorder.

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