The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

An assessment of the growth and development of the pediatric tongue and mandible within a South African population


1School of Anatomical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2Sir John Walsh Research Institute, University of Otago

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Studies assessing juvenile osteology have focused on age and sex related changes in the fetal and post-childhood mandible. However, few have assessed the relationship between the mandible and the growth and development of the tongue. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between the growth of the mandible and tongue in a South African pediatric population (20 gestational weeks to 3 years). Our sample consisted of 171 pediatric cadaver specimens from the Pediatric Collection, University of the Witwatersrand. Osteometry was assessed using a microscribe G2 on 30 mandibular landmarks. These were digitized and converted to linear distances, to assess changes in the overall dimensions of the mandible. Osteometric dimensions included maximum mandibular length, mandibular body length, bigonial and biantegonial widths of the mandible, interforaminal width of the mental foramina, distances between the superior and inferior borders of the mandible and mental foramen and calculated mandibular and mental angles. Tongue dimensions included the maximum and minimum tongue lengths and breadth. These were assessed using a manual sliding caliper. Statistical analysis included size and shape assessments. Size assessments included the geometric mean and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Shape assessments included Mosiman’s shape variables, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and selected geometric morphometric analyses. Statistically significant increases were noted across all groups assessed. All significant increases occurred in the posterior region of the mandible, which was well correlated with tongue dimension increases. Hence, we conclude that mandibular growth is influenced by accommodation of dimensional changes of the tongue.

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