Photoanthropometric Study of Dysmorphic Features of the Face in Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome

By Gorczyca, Piotr; Kapinos-Gorczyca, Agnieszka et al. | Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview
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Photoanthropometric Study of Dysmorphic Features of the Face in Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome


Gorczyca, Piotr, Kapinos-Gorczyca, Agnieszka, Ziora, Katarzyna, Oswiecimska, Joanna, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry


Objective: Childhood autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interactions, verbal and non-verbal communication and by a pattern of stereotypical behaviors and interests. The aim of this study was to estimate the dysmorphic facial features of children with autism and children with Asperger syndrome .

Methods: The examination was conducted on 60 children (30 with childhood autism and 30 with Asperger syndrome). The photo anthropometric method used in this study followed the protocol established by Stengel-Rutkowski et al .

Results: The performed statistical analysis showed that in patients with childhood autism, the anteriorly rotated ears and the long back of the nose appeared more often. In the group of children with autism, there was a connection between the amount of dysmorphies and the presence of some somatic diseases in the first-degree relatives. There was also a connection between the motor coordination and the age the child began to walk.

Discussion: In patients with childhood autism, there were certain dysmorphies (like the anterior rotated ears and the long back of the nose) which appeared more often. Although the connection was not statistically significant, it seemed to concur with data from the literature .

Conclusion: Formulation of the other conclusions would require broader studies e.g. dealing with a familial analysis of dysmorphic features.

Keywords: Autistic Disorder, Asperger syndrome, Etiology, Feature

Iran J Psychiatry 2012; 7:41-46

Childhood autism is a disorder which, in spite of its discovery over 60 years ago, still remains a scientific challenge. Although studies show significant genetic and neurobiological factors in its pathogenesis, the aetiology of autism has not yet been established. Its biological causes have not been discovered, nor has a defined constant marker for it ever been found (1). At present the prevalence of autism is estimated at 1-2 per 1000 children, and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 3-6 per 1000 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Autism is not a pathogenically homogenous syndrome; it is characterized by disorders of structure and activities of the central nervous system, which can be the cause of the impairments in social interactions, communication and a pattern of stereotypical behaviours and interests.

In contrast to the majority of children with disorders that are associated with mental retardation, autistic children are generally regarded as very attractive. Statements regarding this can be found in work by Hans Asperger, who emphasized the symmetrical features of autistic persons' faces, describing them as

"aristocratic, even slightly degenerate" (7). The problem of the head and body build of persons with

autism has very rarely been taken up in other studies.

Certainly the fact that such persons do not tolerate physical contact, reacting with loud shouts and protests, has had a major influence on this, and that is why it has been difficult to perform anthropometric measurements which require very close contact. Therefore, we decided to use indices calculated on the basis of comparing the parameters on facial photographs instead of performing direct anthropometric measurements .

The aim of this study was to estimate the dysmorphic features of the face of children with childhood autism and children with Asperger Syndrome (AS).

Materials and Method

This The study was performed in a group of 60 children (30 with childhood autism and 30 with Asperger Syndrome). Criteria DSM-IV (8) was used in medical examination and diagnosis, and the Gillberg criteria for Asperger Syndrome was also used (9). The medical exam and diagnoses were undertaken in a psychiatric outpatient clinic by two psychiatrists and two pediatricians. The somatic and psychiatric status of the children's family was determined through interview with parents .

All children were psychiatrically examined and their behavior in new surroundings was observed.

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