Have you ever seen people that cannot move their eyes sideways unless they move their head? Or those that cannot move it vertically?
Or have you ever feel disappointed in someone who wouldn’t make a facial expression no matter what you or someone is saying? Imagine if someone is unable to smile won’t you misinterpret the person if you don’t know they are experiencing one of the symptoms of Moebius syndrome?
It takes some muscles and action to smile and make other facial expressions but people with Moebius syndrome have facial paralysis or weakness. So they can’t control or have little control of their face. You will get to see a picture of what the face of those with this syndrome looks like at the end of this write-up. Don’t stray
Oh! I almost forgot…
Have you also seen people who have their eyes wide open while sleeping? This may cause corneal ulceration.
Congenital facial and abducens palsy is also known as the Moebius syndrome. It was first described by Von Graefe (1880) and Moebius (1888), a German neurologist after whom the syndrome was later named.
Abnormalities caused by Moebius syndrome in children
- They will have a short, malformed tongue and/or an abnormally small jaw (micrognathia).
- They may also have cleft palate thereby prone to ear infections (otitis media)
- They have difficulties feeding and breathing. Children with cleft palate are.
- There may be external ear anomalies including underdevelopment of the outer portion of the ear (microtia) or total absence of the outer portion of the ear (anotia).
- There is likely hearing loss if the 8th cranial nerve is affected.
- Dental abnormalities are not uncommon. There is an increased risk for childhood cavities.
- Some affected children have difficulties with speech and delays in speech development.
- Some children have delay crawling or walking, most likely due to upper body weakness; however, most children eventually catch-up.
Causes of Moebius syndrome
In rare cases, familial patterns have been reported. Most cases of Moebius syndrome occur randomly for unknown reasons (sporadically) in the absence of a family history of the disorder.
Most likely, Moebius syndrome is multifactorial, which means that both genetic and environmental factors play some causative role.
The abnormal gene can be inherited!
The risk of passing the abnormal gene from affected parent to offspring is 50% for each pregnancy regardless of the sex of the resulting child.
Several different theories have been proposed to explain the cause of Moebius syndrome.
One hypothesis is the disorder is the result of diminished or interrupted blood flow (ischemia) to the developing fetus during pregnancy (in utero).
Recent research suggests that the lack of blood affects certain areas of the lower brainstem that contain the cranial nerve nuclei. This lack of blood flow could result from an environmental, mechanical, or genetic cause.
Nevertheless, the cause of the syndrome remains inconclusive, and more basic and clinical research is necessary.
Treatment of Moebius syndrome
It is treated based on the symptoms the individual has.
Usually, these children are managed by a multidisciplinary team, often in a craniofacial center. Involved specialists include:
- Plastic surgeons
- Ear, nose, and throat specialists (otolaryngologists)
- Orthopedists; dental specialists
- Speech pathologists
- Specialists who assess and treat hearing problems (audiologists)
- Specialists who treat eye abnormalities (ophthalmologists) and other healthcare professionals.
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