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Using the 3D Facial Norms Database to investigate craniofacial sexual dimorphism in healthy children, adolescents, and adults

Kesterke, MJ and Raffensperger, ZD and Heike, CL and Cunningham, ML and Hecht, JT and Kau, CH and Nidey, NL and Moreno, LM and Wehby, GL and Marazita, ML and Weinberg, SM (2016) Using the 3D Facial Norms Database to investigate craniofacial sexual dimorphism in healthy children, adolescents, and adults. Biology of Sex Differences, 7 (1).

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Background: Although craniofacial sex differences have been extensively studied in humans, relatively little is known about when various dimorphic features manifest during postnatal life. Using cross-sectional data derived from the 3D Facial Norms data repository, we tested for sexual dimorphism of craniofacial soft-tissue morphology at different ages. Methods: One thousand five hundred fifty-five individuals, pre-screened for craniofacial conditions, between 3 and 25 years of age were placed in to one of six age-defined categories: early childhood, late childhood, puberty, adolescence, young adult, and adult. At each age group, sex differences were tested by ANCOVA for 29 traditional soft-tissue anthropometric measurements collected from 3D facial scans. Additionally, sex differences in shape were tested using a geometric morphometric analysis of 24 3D facial landmarks. Results: Significant (p < 0.05) sex differences were observed in every age group for measurements covering multiple aspects of the craniofacial complex. The magnitude of the dimorphism generally increased with age, with large spikes in the nasal, cranial, and facial measurements observed after puberty. Significant facial shape differences (p < 0.05) were also seen at each age, with some dimorphic features already present in young children (eye fissure inclination) and others emerging only after puberty (mandibular position). Conclusions: Several craniofacial soft-tissue sex differences were already present in the youngest age group studied, indicating that these differences emerged prior to 3 years of age. The results paint a complex and heterogeneous picture, with different groups of traits exhibiting distinct patterns of dimorphism during ontogeny. The definitive adult male and female facial shape was present following puberty, but arose from numerous distinct changes taking place at earlier stages.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kesterke, MJmjk109@pitt.eduMJK109
Raffensperger, ZDzdr4@pitt.eduZDR4
Heike, CL
Cunningham, ML
Hecht, JT
Kau, CH
Nidey, NL
Moreno, LM
Wehby, GL
Marazita, MLmarazita@pitt.eduMARAZITA
Weinberg, SMsmwst46@pitt.eduSMWST46
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics
Date: 22 April 2016
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Biology of Sex Differences
Volume: 7
Number: 1
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1186/s13293-016-0076-8
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
School of Public Health > Human Genetics
School of Dental Medicine > Dental Science
School of Medicine > Clinical and Translational Science
School of Medicine > Psychiatry
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2016 17:33
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 11:55


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