Can fingerprints reveal diseases & syndromes?

Fingerprints & DNA: health, diseases, syndromes & other medical problems. Fingerprints & dermatoglyphics have been known for decades now for having a connection with syndromes & diseases. However, the connection is rather complex because even today medical oriented fingerprint experts are still not able to 'read' any syndrome (or disease) from an isolated single fingerprint!

The following describes how the connection between fingerprints & medical problems (which often find their origin in our DNA) is studied with the use of three different approaches involving the dermatoglyphics on the tips of our fingers:

I - Fingerprint distributions & medical problems

The distribution of the fingerprint patterns on the individual fingers can be recognized to represent THE most significant factor regarding the correlation between fingerprints & medical problems!

For example:

• In Down syndrome [trisomy 21] radial loops are most often seen on the ring finger and/or pinky finger (international studies have usually shown typical percentages for the ring finger between 5% and 10%, and for the pinky finger typically between 1% and 5%); while in the general population the radial loop is by far most common on the index finger (15%) and middle finger (only about 1.5%), and radial loops are relatively rare on the ring finger (0.5%) and pinky finger (0.3%).

Many other syndromes & diseases display other uncommon fingerprint distributions among the five fingers; specific details are summarized for 23 syndromes + 1 disease in the new section (2015):
Scientific Hand Charts: the collection!

II -Dominant fingerprint pattern type & medical problems

Even though ulnar loops dominate in most populations around the world, studies have shown that in quite genetic disorders whorls or arches represent the dominant fingerprint types.

» Syndromes with arch fingerprints dominant:

• in Edwards syndrome [trisomy 18] arches dominate: an arch is found on the majority of fingertips, up to above 85%);
• in Warkany syndrome [trisomy 8] arches dominate: an arch is found on a high amount of fingertips, up to above 45%);

(• arches are also very common in Patau syndrome [trisomy 13] arches dominate: an arch is found on a high amount of fingertips, up to above 20% - three times more common compared to controls);

» Syndromes with whorl fingerprints dominant:

• in Holt-Oram syndrome [TBX5 mutation] whorls dominate: an arch is found on a high amount of fingertips, up to above 45%);
• in Smith-Lemi-Opitz syndrome [7-DHC] whorls dominate: an arch is found on a high amount of fingertips, up to above 45%);
• in Rubella syndrome whorls dominate: an arch is sometimes found on the majority of fingertips, up to above 60% in males);

NOTICE: In Down syndrome [trisomy 21] ulnar loops dominate heavily (about +25% more ulnar loops compared to controls);

III - Fingerprint minutiae & medical problems

Beyond personal identification, minutiae can also be recognized to have some value in the perspective of the correlation between fingerprints & disease but the value appears limited - especially due to technical problems related to analysis of the minutiae. Anyway, here are a few examples:

Down syndrome [trisomy 21]: in a considerable proportion of cases the ridge lines are not fully develop, which is defined as ridge dissociation (this abnormality may occur on the full palm or parts of the palm and/or in all or some fingerprints); a higher intensity of minutiae, mainly due to an increased proportion of junctions is also reported;
Turner syndrome [XO]: minutiae also play a significant role.

The study of the so-called 'minutiae' involves friction ridge skin variations that can manifest as e.g.:

- Core shape: a U-turn in the ridge pattern;
- Ridge ending: the abrupt end of a ridge;
- Short ridge, or independent ridge: a ridge that commences, travels a short distance and then ends
- Ridge bifurcation (fork): a single ridge that divides into two ridges
- Delta shape: a Y-shaped ridge meeting (triradius);
- Hook (or spur): a bifurcation with a short ridge branching off a longer ridge
- Eye
- Island: a single small ridge inside a short ridge or ridge ending that is not connected to all other ridges
- Crossover or bridge: a short ridge that runs between two parallel ridges
- Bridge
- Ridge enclosure: a single ridge that bifurcates and reunites shortly afterward to continue as a single ridge
- Speciality (various).

Fingerprint minutiae: ridge characteristics.

What are the most common distributions among the five fingers? ...more.

Martijn van Mensvoort - Hand Research

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