It may be somewhat hard to believe but some people are born without fingerprints.
Normally, humans are born with their fingers and soles covered by ridges called dermatoglyphs. Some people are however born with the absence of these ridges that form fingerprints. This condition is called adermatoglyphia (without dermatoglyphs).
Adermatoglyphia is a hereditary disorder that is very rare. It has been documented only among members of four families worldwide.
Fingerprints are unique.
Fingerprints are very unique and are fully formed in foetuses by 24 weeks after a pregnancy is conceived. They do not change throughout life making them very useful and reliable for identification of persons and for tracing criminals. Even a set of identical twins have different fingerprints.
Immigration Delay Disease
A Swiss woman was once delayed when trying to enter the United States after she was found not to have any fingerprints. The disorder has even been labeled “immigration delay disease” due to resulting delays from identification challenges at airports and security checkpoints.
Researchers studied sixteen members of the Swiss woman’s family, six of them were found to have fingerprints while nine of them were found to have none. They found mutations in a smaller version of a gene called SMARCAD1 among those without fingerprints.
Although abnormal fingerprints have been found in people with other disorders like Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, adermatoglyphia itself has not been linked with any serious health issues. It could however be a certain cause for concern for people affected, border agents and security operatives.