Research Article

Relation of fingerprints and shape of the palm to fetal growth and adult blood pressure.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 14 August 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:405
  1. K M Godfrey,
  2. D J Barker,
  3. J Peace,
  4. J Cloke,
  5. C Osmond
  1. MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital.


    OBJECTIVE--To examine how finger and palm prints are related to fetal growth and adult blood pressure. DESIGN--Follow up study of babies born around 50 years ago whose birth weight, placental weight, head circumference, and length at birth were recorded. SETTING--Preston, Lancashire. SUBJECTS--139 men and women born in Sharoe Green Hospital in Preston during 1935-43 and still living in Lancashire. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Finger and palm prints and current blood pressure. RESULTS--People who were thin at birth had more whorl patterns on their fingers. People who were short at birth in relation to their head circumference had longer hands and a narrower palmer angle. Mean systolic blood pressure was 8 mmHg higher (95% confidence interval 2 to 13; p = 0.01) in the 93 men and women with a whorl pattern on one or more fingers compared with the 46 who had no whorls. The greater the number of fingers with whorls the higher the systolic blood pressure. Whorls on the right hand were more strongly associated with higher systolic pressure than whorls on the left, mean systolic pressure rising by 2.2 mmHg (0.2 to 4.1; p = 0.03) for each additional whorl on the right hand. People with long hands and a narrow palmar angle also had higher systolic pressure. Again, these associations were stronger for the right hand. Mean systolic pressure rose by 0.49 mmHg (-0.03 to 1.01; p = 0.03) for each degree decrease in palmar angle on the right hand. CONCLUSIONS--Fingertip whorls and a narrow palmar angle are indelible markers of impaired fetal development at different stages in pregnancy. Both are associated with raised blood pressure in adult life.