Abnormal Variations in the Facial Soft Tissues of Individuals With Down Syndrome: Sudan Versus Italy

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2015 Sep;52(5):588-96. doi: 10.1597/14-082. Epub 2014 Oct 2.


Objective: To provide quantitative information about the facial soft tissue of Italian and Northern Sudanese subjects with Down syndrome by using summary anthropometric measurements.

Design, setting, and patients: The three-dimensional coordinates of soft tissue facial landmarks were obtained using a computerized digitizer in 54 Italian subjects with Down syndrome (20 females and 34 males, 13 to 52 years), in 64 Northern Sudanese subjects with Down syndrome (18 females and 46 males, 5 to 34 years), and in 578 Italian and 653 Northern Sudanese reference subjects, matched for sex and age. From the landmarks, 16 facial dimensions were calculated. Data from subjects with Down syndrome were compared with those collected from control individuals by computing z scores. Two summary anthropometric measurements for quantifying craniofacial variations were obtained: the mean z score (an index of overall facial size) and its standard deviation, the craniofacial variability index (an index of facial harmony).

Results: In subjects with Down syndrome, facial size was significantly smaller and craniofacial variability was significantly greater than in typically developed individuals; 93% of Italian and 81% of Northern Sudanese subjects with Down syndrome had one or both values outside the normal interval. Overall, Italian subjects with Down syndrome differed more from the norm than did those from Northern Sudan. In the Northern Sudanese subjects, the mean z scores and the craniofacial variability index were significantly influenced by age: Older Northern Sudanese subjects with Down syndrome had smaller mean z scores and craniofacial variability index values than younger subjects.

Conclusions: The two ethnic groups had different alterations in their soft tissue facial dimensions that were partially influenced by age.

Keywords: Down syndrome; anthropometry; face; soft tissues; three-dimensional.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anatomic Landmarks
  • Anthropometry
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / pathology*
  • Face / abnormalities*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sudan