Uniform 3D meshes to establish normative facial averages of healthy infants during the first year of life

PLoS One. 2019 May 20;14(5):e0217267. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217267. eCollection 2019.


Three-dimensional (3D) surface imaging systems are replacing direct anthropometry as the preferred method for capturing facial soft-tissues. Aims of this study were: (1) to develop normative average 3D faces of healthy infants aged 3, 6, 9, and 12 months and (2) to describe normative average 3D facial growth data in infants aged 3 to 12 months. Three-dimensional images of 50 healthy children were acquired at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of age using the 3dMDcranial system. Four average faces with uniform meshes (3, 6, 9, and 12 months) were developed and registered based on the children's reference frames. Distance maps of growth of the total facial surface and of the nose, upper lip, chin, forehead and cheeks for the intervals 3 to 6 months, 6 to 9 months, and 9 to 12 months of age were calculated. Mean growth of the total facial surface was 3.9 mm (standard deviation [SD] 1.2 mm), 3.5 mm (SD 0.9 mm), and 1.6 mm (SD 0.7 mm) at 3 to 6 months, 6 to 9 months, and 9 to 12 months, respectively. Regarding the selected regions of the face, the mean growth of the nose and upper lip were the largest (3.7 mm and 3.6 mm, respectively) between 6 and 9 months of age. The mean growth of the forehead, cheeks and chin were the largest (5.4 mm, 3.2, and 4.7 mm, respectively) between 3 and 6 months of age. For all facial regions, growth clearly diminished from 9 to 12 months of age. Normative data on the growth of the full face, nose, upper lip, chin, forehead and cheeks are presented. Such data can be used in future studies to identify the effectiveness of treatment of orofacial deformities such as orofacial clefts during the first year of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cephalometry / methods*
  • Cephalometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maxillofacial Development
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Netherlands
  • Reference Values

Grant support

Thomas J.J. Maal received a grant from the Dutch Technology Foundation to STW (grant #10315). https://www.nwo.nl/over-nwo/organisatie/nwo-onderdelen/ttw/technologiestichting+stw. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.