Heritability of craniofacial characteristics between parents and offspring estimated from lateral cephalograms

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2005 Feb;127(2):200-7; quiz 260-1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2004.07.033.


Objective: The purpose of the study was to estimate the heritability of different cephalometric parameters, according to lateral cephalograms, between parents and their offspring in an Icelandic population.

Methods: The material was collected at the Faculty of Odontology, University of Iceland. The subjects were 363 children (6 years of age) and their parents. Material was also collected from the same group of children at the age of 16 years. Twenty-two reference points were identified on each cephalogram, and 33 variables were calculated, both angular and linear. Heritability was calculated at ages 6 and 16.

Results: Daughters had more variables that reached the level of significance than did sons. Daughters showed similar heritability to both parents at both age levels, but more variables were highly significant ( P < or = .001) in the daughter-father groups. Sons showed stronger heritability to their mothers at both ages. The variables showing the greatest heritability were those representing the position of the lower jaw, the anterior and posterior face heights, and the cranial base dimensions. Heritability was notably low for the dental variables.

Conclusions: Genetic aberrations can be detected for complex polygenetic multifactorial traits. Cephalometric data can support predictions, and analysis of parental data could have predictive value for offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cephalometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Dentition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Maxillofacial Development / genetics*
  • Nasal Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Nuclear Family
  • Skull Base / anatomy & histology