The palmar dermatoglyphs of 800 patients with anatomically proven congenital heart disease were compared with prints from 1000 controls. A review of the previous studies revealed major technical deficiencies, and the present study failed to confirm most of the previously reported positive findings. An overall increase in the incidence of hypothenar patterns was found, probably explaining the previous suggestion of increased atd angle in congenital heart disease. A large number of statistical comparisons inevitably produced a few 'significant' results, most of which were inconsistent in various ways. Two percent of cases were found to have rare epidermal ridge malformation, ridge dissociation. The nature of the relationship between this and congenital heart disease is obscure. Claims that there are diagnostically useful dermatoglyphic changes in congenital heart disease can be disregarded.
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