Prenatal exposure to oestrogens estimated by digit ratio (2d/4d) and breast size in young nulliparous women

Ertugrul B. , Ozener B., Pawlowski B.

ANNALS OF HUMAN BIOLOGY, 2019 (SCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier


Digit ratio (2d/4d) in humans is commonly used as a proxy for the exposure to oestrogens and androgens in prenatal life. Masculinisation/feminisation in adults may be also related to digit ratio and therefore to the oestrogen/androgen ratio in prenatal life. It has been shown, for instance, that Waist-to-Hip ratio (WHR) and the amount and distribution of body fat are related to digit ratio in women. A species-specific, sexually dimorphic morphological trait in humans is also a pair of permanent breasts that develop during puberty, under the influence of oestrogens. Here we test if prenatal exposure to oestrogens (in relation to androgens), measured by digit ratio, may also be related to breast size in young, nulliparous women. 133 Turkish students (mean age 22.2) were measured. Breast size was calculated as the difference between breast and under-breast circumferences. We found that when controlling for body mass index (BMI), both right and left digit ratios correlate positively with breast size. This relationship is stronger for the digit ratio of the right hand, which confirms that this side is a better measure of sex differences. Thus, higher exposure to oestrogens in prenatal life is related with stronger expression of a sexually dimorphic trait, such as breast size, in adult women.