Moebius Syndrome

What is Moebius Syndrome?

Moebius Syndrome is a disorder that affects the nerves of the face – the facial nerve, or the 7th cranial nerve It is very rare.

What causes it?

We don’t really know. Rarely it runs in families, but usually other members of the family are not affected.
One theory is that the blood supply to the affected nerves in the embryo are disrupted. Another is that there is something different about the nerves and brain themselves that make them not develop properly. Certain medicines taken during pregnancy may also cause it.

Moebius Sydrome 2

How do I know if someone has Moebius Syndrome?

  • People with Moebius syndrome cannot move their faces, they cannot smile, frown or blink their eyes. They have no facial expression which makes it difficult to know if they are happy, sad, angry or laughing.
  • Both sides of the face are usually affected but not always.
  • The face may be asymmetrically affected.
  • Some people cannot move their face at all and others may have weak movement.
  • Sometimes they have crossed eyes because the nerve to that muscle is also not working, the 6th cranial nerve.
  • Less often other nerves are also involved and the person may not be able to:
    • Hear
    • Cough
    • Talk clearly
    • Swallow
  • Not all people with facial weakness have Moebius Syndrome – there are other ways in which the Facial Nerve can be damaged:
    • Injury
    • Infection
    • Stroke

How is it treated?

  •  When a baby with Moebius Syndrome is small, the main priority is that they feed and grow well.
  •  Speech therapy helps with speaking, eating and drooling.
  •  Eyes need to be protected because the person can’t close their eyes, especially at night when they are sleeping.
  •  Eye problems may be improved with surgery to correct a squint.
  • When the child is older, surgery can be done to create a smile by moving muscles to the face and joining them to nerves that are working.
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