This section of our website aims to support families and friends of children and adults with facial palsy.
Children with facial palsy
Facial palsy in infants is rare, it occurs for a number of different reasons, and sometimes the exact cause is never confirmed.
Examples of developmental causes of facial palsy (present at birth) are:
- Moebius syndrome
- CHARGE syndrome
- Hemifacial microsomia
- Asymmetric crying facies (ACF)
- Congenital facial palsy not associated with a particular syndrome, for example the nerve and/or muscle may have failed to develop properly in the womb, or be completely missing. This can usually be identified with an MRI, see further information about medical tests.
- Sometimes babies acquire facial palsy as a result of birth trauma, for example, from a difficult forceps delivery or pressure from the mother’s pelvic bone during labour. When facial palsy is caused by birth trauma, bruising to the facial nerve can be temporary and resolve in a few months, or there may be permanent damage. Facial palsy in infants can also be triggered by a stroke or tumour.
Facial palsy may develop at any time during childhood, examples of causes include:
- Bell’s palsy, Lyme disease and other infections.
- Damage to the facial nerve during surgery to remove a tumour.
- Pressure on the facial nerve from a tumour.
- Damage to the facial nerve caused by head trauma.
- Rare neurological disorders, for example, Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome and Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere syndrome.
- Genetic muscle disorders such as Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD)
How does facial palsy affect the young?
Although children with facial palsy have to deal with some very unique challenges, with the right guidance and support they can become confident adults and live happy and fulfilled lives. One of the key things to do for a child growing up with facial palsy is to make sure they do not feel unique or alone with their problems, meeting others who are in a similar situation can make a huge difference to how they feel. Facial Palsy UK organises family days to support children affected by facial palsy and their families, find out more here. Facial palsy affects people in many different ways, and the degree of paralysis does not always correlate to how well the person copes with it. Some children with more obvious facial palsy will cope better than those who have less noticeable paralysis; much depends on whether they have strong friendship groups and how much support they receive from parents or guardians throughout childhood.
Facial palsy may also affect speech, so referral to a speech and language therapist is necessary in some cases.
Links to further information
- Family days
- Children’s Book
- Parents & siblings
- Young children with facial palsy
- Teenagers with facial palsy
- Young adults with facial palsy
- Paediatric healthcare
- Child speech & language
Adults with facial palsy
Facial palsy can have far-reaching effects on whole families. Parents, partners, children and friends may suddenly find they need to learn more about this rarely publicised condition, in order to handle the situation with sensitivity. This information is provided to help family and friends understand how they can support a loved one with facial palsy.
They may be concerned with:
- Supporting their loved one and providing reassurance.
- Educating themselves about facial palsy.
- Worrying about saying the wrong thing.
Many people living with permanent facial palsy have also been through the traumatic experience of having a benign or cancerous tumour removed, others may have had an injury to the face caused by an accident. Some people are born with facial paralysis. The most common cause of facial paralysis is Bell’s palsy from which the majority of people make a full recovery, but a small minority are left with permanent residual effects. There are many other causes of facial paralysis, find out more here.
For some people with facial palsy, it may have completely altered their life path, but for others it may just be a very small part of their life.
Links to further information
Last reviewed: 20-08-2019 || Next review due: 20-08-2022