Some chronic diseases are thought to be positively correlated with early developmental stressors. Fluctuating asymmetry is a composite of several bilateral morphological trait differences. It serves as a useful index of developmental instability. This study tested whether there is a relationship between fluctuating asymmetry and type II diabetics and was part of a larger study of relationships between early life events and chronic diseases. Patients, visitors, and staff of five southern California hospitals participated. Six lower arm and hand traits were compared bilaterally. An electronic caliper was used to measure the length of the lower arm, ulna, hand, and third proximal phalange. The width of the hand and wrist was also recorded. Type II diabetics demonstrated significantly more fluctuating asymmetry than their control counterparts (Mann-Whitney p = .015). Greater fluctuating asymmetry was found only in Hispanics. The Hispanic subsample consists of 73 type II diabetics and 33 controls. The mean age of the experimental group was 46.9 and included 38 males and 35 females. The control group was somewhat younger (mean 38.3 years) and comprised 10 males and 23 females. No significant correlation was found between fluctuating asymmetry and age or gender. The results of this study imply that Hispanic type II diabetics are exposed to increased levels of stress early in development.
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