Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 2151–2159 | Cite as

Minor Physical Anomalies as a Window into the Prenatal Origins of Pedophilia

  • Fiona Dyshniku
  • Michelle E. Murray
  • Rachel L. FazioEmail author
  • Amy D. Lykins
  • James M. Cantor
Original Paper


Evidence is steadily accumulating to support a neurodevelopmental basis for pedophilia. This includes increased incidence of non-right-handedness, which is a result primarily of prenatal neural development and solidified very early in life. Minor physical anomalies (MPAs; superficial deviations from typical morphological development, such as un-detached earlobes) also develop only prenatally, suggesting them as another potential marker of atypical physiological development during the prenatal period among pedophiles. This study administered the Waldrop Physical Anomaly Scale to assess the prevalence of MPAs in a clinical sample of men referred for assessment following a sexual assault, or another illegal or clinically significant sexual behavior. Significant associations emerged between MPA indices and indicators of pedophilia, including penile responses to depictions of children, number of child victims, and possession of child pornography. Moreover, greater sexual attraction to children was associated with an elevated craniofacial-to-peripheral anomalies ratio. The overall sample demonstrated a greater number of MPAs relative to prior samples of individuals with schizophrenia as well as to healthy controls.


Anthropometry Minor physical anomalies Pedophilia Phallometry Prenatal development 



This research was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grants 79276 and 89719 to James M. Cantor.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona Dyshniku
    • 1
  • Michelle E. Murray
    • 2
  • Rachel L. Fazio
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amy D. Lykins
    • 3
  • James M. Cantor
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Sexual Behaviours ClinicCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.School of Behavioural, Cognitive, and Social SciencesUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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