The mechanisms behind handedness formation in humans are still poorly understood. Very low birthweight is associated with higher odds of left-handedness, but whether this is due to low birthweight itself or premature birth is unknown. Handedness has also been linked to development, but the role of birthweight behind this association is unclear. Knowing that birthweight is lower in multiple births, triplets being about 1.5 kg lighter in comparison with singletons, and that multiples have a higher prevalence of left-handedness than singletons, we studied the association between birthweight and handedness in two large samples consisting exclusively of triplets from Japan (n = 1,305) and the Netherlands (n = 947). In both samples, left-handers had significantly lower birthweight (Japanese mean = 1,599 g [95% confidence interval (CI): 1,526–1,672 g]; Dutch mean = 1,794 g [95% CI: 1,709–1,879 g]) compared with right-handers (Japanese mean = 1,727 g [95% CI: 1,699–1,755 g]; Dutch mean = 1,903 g [95% CI: 1,867–1,938 g]). Within-family and between-family analyses both suggested that left-handedness is associated with lower birthweight, also when fully controlling for gestational age. Left-handers also had significantly delayed motor development and smaller infant head circumference compared with right-handers, but these associations diluted and became nonsignificant when controlling for birthweight. Our study in triplets provides evidence for the link between low birthweight and left-handedness. Our results also suggest that developmental differences between left- and right-handers are due to a shared etiology associated with low birthweight.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Early online date||14 May 2018|
|Publication status||Published - 5 Jun 2018|
- Prenatal development
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)