Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Richard L. Jantz

Committee Members

William M. Bass, Fred H. Smith, Patrick J. Carney


Quantitative dermatoglyphic data for patients with oral-facial clefts and their first degree relatives were compared with controls. The objectives were to define the nature of the differences between those samples and to interpret the differences in terms of developmental processes.

The clinic samples were composed of Caucasian cleft lip and/or cleft palate patients and normal first degree relatives from Knox and surrounding counties in East Tennessee. The control sample consisted of 102 male and 102 female University of Tennessee students and Knoxville children. Specific diagnoses as to cleft type and associated malformations were determined by consulting clinic records. Two diagnostic classifications were employed: (1) patients with cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CL±P; n=88), and (2) patients with cleft palate only (CP; n=29). Patients with numerous developmental defects or Pierre Robin’s syndrome were not included. For certain tests, the CL±P sample was divided into two subsamples: (1) probands having additional relatives with any type of cleft (FH+), and (2) patients having no other relatives with clefts (FH-).

The majority of variables were ridge-counts of finger and palmar patterns or dermatoglyphic areas. Radial and ulnar ridge-counts were obtained for each digit. Also, patterns in the second, third and fourth interdigital areas were quantified by counting the number of ridges between the pattern centers and corresponding triradii. Five variables on each palm defined size of the interdigital patterns, their location and the triradii or main lines essential to their formation. Interdigital counts, a-b, b-c and c-d, were obtained for both palms. Ridge breadth and maximal atd angle was measured on the palms.

The data for CL±P probands and controls were separately factor analyzed and the factors compared. The entire sample (control plus clinic samples) was analyzed to obtain factor scores for all individuals. Those scores were used in multivariate tests for determining whether the factor score means or dispersion matrices of the patient and control samples differed significantly. In separate tests, controls were compared with CL±P probands, CL±P siblings and CL±P parents. Like comparisons were repeated for CP patients and their family members. CL±P and CP probands were tested for differences from corresponding siblings using a multivariate paired samples test. The effect of a positive history of clefts was determined by comparing factor scores of controls, CL±P, FH+ and CL±P, FH- patients.

Ridge breadth and maximum atd angle were analyzed independently from the other variables. Males and females were analyzed separately and an analysis of covariance technique allowed adjusting means for effects of age.

Fluctuating asymmetry of the control and patient samples were compared by testing for variance-covariance homogeneity. The tests measured sample differences in the patterning of the relationships among the asymmetry measures as well as magnitude differences in the within-pair variances.

Ten factors were extracted for controls, CL±P probands and the total sample. Five general types of factors are represented in each group: (1) finger radial count factors; (2) finger ulnar count factors; (3) thumb factors; (4) palmar interdigital count factors; and (5) palmar pattern factors. Controls and CL±P probands contrast in the relative contributions of certain variables to specific factors.

Scores for five factors were retained for further comparisons. Few differences in means are discernible between clinic samples and controls. The data provides no evidence that a positive or negative history of clefts has any affect on mean values. Proband and non-cleft sibling means are similar. CL±P females have significantly wider ridges than noted for control females.

The clinic samples are unusual in the dispersion matrices of factor scores and asymmetry measures. Factor score variance-covariance matrices of CL±P probands, siblings and parents significantly differ from controls. Probands are the extreme in this regard. Only a few variances, when tested individually, display heterogeneity suggesting that the interrelationships among the variables (covariances) differ from controls. The presence of covariance differences seems noteworthy in relation to cleft formation. Facial development requires a highly coordinated or correlated interaction of several embryological structures. Deviation from normal developmental pathways, as involved in the formation of cleft lip and cleft palate, would seem a likely possibility when normal relationships are not maintained. The variables examined bear no direct relationship with morphogenesis of the face. Therefore, the types of covariance differences indicated in the dermatoglyphics may be fairly generalized throughout the individual and somehow related to the cause of oral-facial clefts.

Variance-covariance asymmetry matrices for CL±P and CP probands and their siblings differ from controls although not the parent samples. The asymmetry matrices of CL±P, FH- probands significantly differ from controls. However, in contrast with some previous research, there does not appear to be a consistent tendency for the CL±P samples to show increased fluctuating asymmetry.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Anthropology Commons