Season of birth and fluctuating asymmetry.
Benderlioglu Z, Nelson RJ.
Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, The Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio 43210, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) refers to random, small deviations from perfect bilateral symmetry in morphological traits. These minor deviations from the ideal phenotype reflect environmental and genetic perturbations experienced during ontogeny. FA has been associated with negative health outcomes and many developmental disorders in humans. The prevalence of developmental disorders and adult health vary according to the month of birth, suggesting that seasonal stressors may leave enduring signs in the adult body, marked by high FA. The current study examined the relationship between FA and birth season. Data were collected for 205 males and females (average age = 20.39 years) on FA of 10 bilateral traits (second, third, fourth, and fifth digit length, palm height, wrist diameter, elbow width, ear height, foot breadth, and ankle circumference). Additional relationships were also investigated among FA, testosterone (T), and birth order. Results indicate that ear FA was lower for fall births compared to winter births in males. In females, palm FA was lower for fall births compared to those of the spring. FA of the digits was positively associated with T in males. Average FA, excluding the digits, decreased as the number of maternal siblings increased for both sexes. T concentrations in males were positively associated with the number of younger brothers. Our results generally confirm previous research on seasonal variation in adult longevity and neurological and psychiatric disorders, suggesting that winter and spring births are at risk for asymmetric developmental trajectory. Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Source: Am J Human Biol. 2004 May-Jun;16(3):298-310.
PMID: 15101055 [PubMed - in process]