Variable and Invariable Proportions in the Ontogenesis of the Human Face : Journal of Craniofacial Surgery

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Variable and Invariable Proportions in the Ontogenesis of the Human Face

Scheffler, Christiane PhD

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Journal of Craniofacial Surgery 24(1):p 237-241, January 2013. | DOI: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e31826d07a3


The human face shows individual features and features that are characteristic for sex and age (the loss of childlike characteristics during maturation). The analysis of facial dimensions is essential for identifying individual features also for forensic issues.

The analysis of facial proportions was performed on photogrammetric data from front views of 125 children. The data were pooled from 2 different studies. The children’s data were obtained from a longitudinal study and reduced by random generator to ensure the data of adults from a separate cross-sectional study.

We applied principal component analysis on photogrammetric facial proportions of 169 individuals: 125 children (63 boys and 62 girls) aged 2–7 years and 44 adults (18 men and 26 women) aged 18–65 years.

Facial proportions depend on age and sex. Three components described age: (1) proportions of facial height to head height, (2) proportions that involve endocanthal breadth, and (3) bigonial to bizygonial proportions. Proportions that associate with sex are connected with nasal distances and nasal to bizygonial distances.

Twenty-three percent of the variance, particularly variance that are connected with proportions of lower and middle face heights to head height, do neither depend on sex nor on age and thus appear useful for screening purposes, eg, for dysmorphic genetic syndromes.

© 2013 Mutaz B. Habal, MD

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