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Early Hum Dev. 2006 Jul;82(7):469-75. Epub 2006 Feb 13.

Fetal development of the hand, digits and digit ratio (2D:4D).

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Medical Faculty, Department of Anatomy, S├╝leyman Demirel University, 32260 Isparta, Turkey.



The purpose of this study was to investigate growth patterns in human hands, digits and digit ratio (2D:4D) during the fetal period.


The study is carried out on 161 human fetuses (83 males, 78 females) free from external pathology or malformation with ages ranging between 9 and 40 weeks of gestation. Following general external measurements, length and width of the hand, digit lengths separate for each hand was measured, hand index and the ratio of the lengths of the 2nd finger to the 4th finger (2D:4D index) was computed.


Means and standard deviations of the parameters with respect to gestational weeks, months and trimesters were calculated. There was a significant correlation between all parameters and gestational age (p<0.001). No significant differences were observed between sexes or sides for any of the parameters (p>0.05). 2D:4D ratio was significantly higher in females compared to males (p<0.05) and mean 2D:4D did not change with gestational age.


Detailed information of hand and digit parameters related to the fetal period will reveal the extent of biological variations of hand and digit parameters to be used in future studies. We hope that data acquired in this study will facilitate other studies on hand and digit anomalies, pathologies and variations as well as diagnoses and treatments of such conditions conducted in obstetrics, perinatology, forensic medicine and fetal pathology departments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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