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Prenatal programming of sporting success: Associations of digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative marker for prenatal androgen action, with world rankings in female fencers

Bescos, Raul, Esteve, Marc, Porta, Jordi, Mateu, Merce, Irurtia, Alfredo and Voracek, Martin (2009) Prenatal programming of sporting success: Associations of digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative marker for prenatal androgen action, with world rankings in female fencers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27 (6). pp. 625-632. ISSN 0264-0414 (print) 1466-447X (online)

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Abstract

Associations of the second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative marker for prenatal androgen action, and of absolute finger length, a putative marker for pubertal–adolescent androgen action, with sport performance were examined in a multinational sample of 87 world-class women épée fencers. Lower (masculinized) digit ratios correlated, although not significantly so, with better current and highest past world rankings. These correlations were significant for right-hand 2D:4D with controls for the most salient factors for 2D:4D (ethnicity) and world rankings (years of international experience, height, and weight). Longer (masculinized) fingers correlated strongly with better current and highest past world rankings; these correlations became insignificant with the same controls. Replicating previous evidence for fencers, left-handedness was much more prevalent in this sample (21%) than in the female general population, and left-handers had somewhat, but not significantly so, lower 2D:4D as well as better world rankings than right-handers. These findings extend related evidence suggestive of prenatal programming of aptitude across a variety of sports, especially running and soccer. Some known extragenital effects of prenatal testosterone that contribute to the development of efficient cardiovascular systems, good visuospatial abilities, physical endurance and speed, and to the propensity for rough-and-tumble play, apparently promote sporting success in adult life.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: fencing, digit ratio (2D:4D), testosterone, prenatal programming, hormonal masculinisation
Subjects: FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2014 23:19
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2014 23:19
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/24201
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410802707029
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Citations in Scopus: 25 - View on Scopus

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