A new study has suggested that paedophiles are more likely to have superficial facial flaws, known as Minor Physical Anomalies (MPAs) and are also more likely to be left-handed.
The University of Windsor study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests pedophilia develops prenatally, around the same time that such physical flaws develop.
Researcher Fiona Dyshniku said that evidence is steadily accumulating to support a neurodevelopmental basis of pedophilia, adding that if people find that pedophilia has a biological basis, with a very early, even prenatal onset, this will influence and hopefully improve methods of treatment for this group.
Facial anomalies could, among others, include having non-detached earlobes, malformed ears, or a high or steepled palate. These features develop during the sensitive first and early second trimesters while a baby is still in the womb, from the same primary embryonic tissue layer that gives rise to the central nervous system.
They could develop because of prenatal exposure to viruses, alcohol or drugs, obstetric complications, or nutritional deficiencies. Such features are more prevalent among men, which might mean that the male brain is more susceptible to disruptive events during prenatal development.
Co-author Rachel Fazio added that if they know more about the etiology of an injurious behavior, they can create more effective treatments and look toward prevention, noting that for years, it was thought that child molestation was somewhat of a learned behavior, potentially from the abusers having been sexually abused themselves as children. While this may be a factor in some cases, this is not the case in those with genuine pedophilia.
The study appears in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.