Cranio-Facial Characteristics in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders


on the May 30, 2019

Published in J Clin Med

Collaborative research project led by Prof. M. Roccella (Department of Psychological Sciences, Pedagogical and Education, University of Palermo, Italy) to which Prof. F. Bonnet-Brilhault and Dr. S. Roux participated

Cranio-Facial Characteristics in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Background: Cranio-facial anomalies frequently occur in neurodevelopmental disorders because both face and brain are derived from neuroectoderm. The identification of differences in the facial phenotype of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may reflect alterations in embryologic brain development in children with ASD.

Methods: we evaluated 33 caucasian children with ASD using a 2D computerized photogrammetry. Anthropometric euclidean measurements and landmarks located on the soft tissue of the face and head, were based on five cranio-facial indexes. Relationships between anthropometric z-scores and participant characteristics (i.e., age, Global IQ, severity of autistic symptoms measured using the CARS checklist) were assessed.

Results: Cephalic index z-score differed significantly from 0 in our ASD group (p = 0.019). Moreover, a significant negative correlation was found between Facial Index z-score and CARS score (p = 0.003); conversely, a positive correlation was found between Interchantal Index z-score and CARS score (p = 0.028).

Conclusion: our measurements shows a dolichocephalic head shape which is not correlated with autism severity. Importantly, two craniofacial markers were significantly correlated with autism severity: increased orbital hyperthelorism and decrease of height of the facial midline. These data support previous findings of craniofacial anomalies in autism spectrum disorder suggesting an "ASD facial phenotype" that could be used to improve ASD diagnoses.


#autism spectrum disorders; #morphology; #neurodevelopment; #ASD

Contact :
Prof. Frédérique Bonnet-Brilhaut :