Feb. 24, 2022
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What is Moebius syndrome?
Moebius syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that is present at birth. It primarily affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, leaving those with the condition unable to move their faces (they can’t smile, frown, suck, grimace or blink their eyes) and unable to move their eyes laterally.
Other cranial nerves may be affected, especially the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th and 12th. There may be skeletal involvement causing hand/feet anomalies and/or club feet. Respiratory problems, speech and swallowing disorders, visual impairments, sensory integration dysfunction, sleep disorders, and weak upper body strength may also be present. Approximately 30% of children with Moebius syndrome are on the autism spectrum.
Symptoms may include:
• Lack of facial expression; inability to smile
• Feeding, swallowing and choking problems
• Keeping head back to swallow
• Eye sensitivity due to inability to squint
• Motor delays due to upper body weakness
• Absence of lateral eye movement
• Absence of blinking
• Strabismus (crossed eyes)
• High palate
• Short or deformed tongue
• Limited movement of tongue
• Submucous cleft palate
• Dental problems
• Hearing impairment
• Articulation/speech disorders
• Minor mid-line anomalies
• Club feet
• Hand/feet deformaties
Although they crawl and walk later, most Moebius Syndrome children eventually catch up. Speech problems often respond to therapy, but may persist due to impaired mobility of the tongue and lips. As children get older, the lack of facial expression and an inability to smile become the dominant visible symptoms. Moebius Syndrome is sometimes accompanied by Pierre Robin syndrome and Poland's anomaly.
How does it occur?
Moebius syndrome is thought to be genetic, and most cases are sporadic, occurring once in a family. The recurrence risk is thought to be extremely low, and one source has quoted it to be 2%. However, there are some families in which multiple people have Moebius Syndrome. Research on the causes of Moebius Syndrome is not conclusive at this time.
How is it treated?
Infants sometimes require special bottles (ie Special Needs or Pigeon Feeder) or feeding tubes to maintain sufficient nutrition. Strabismus (crossed eyes) is usually correctable with surgery.Children with Moebius syndrome usually benefit from physical and speech therapy to improve their gross motor skills and coordination, and to gain better control over speaking and eating, as well as occupational and sensory integration therapies.
Limb and jaw deformities may often be improved through surgery. In addition,plastic reconstructive surgery of the face can offer benefits in individual cases. In some cases, nerve and muscle transfers to the corners of the mouth have been performed to provide an ability to smile.
This information was developed by the Moebius Syndrome Foundation and is herewith used with permission.
Moebius Syndrome Foundatoin. What Is Moebius Syndrome? Available at: https://www.moebiussyndrome.com/. Accessed January 21, 2014.
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