Enjoy The Smiles And The Frowns Too

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Sometimes frowning is a good thing. You should consider yourself fortunate, for you and your near and dear ones are able to frown, because there are some unfortunate ones who are unable to frown and that can be an indication of something as serious as Moebius Syndrome. It is a rare, genetic disorder that can wreak havoc in your life.

Moebius syndrome is a congenital and non-progressive craniofacial/neurological disorder that manifests itself primarily in facial paralysis. Weakness of the muscles in affected regions leads to different problems as part of this syndrome. Those affected with Moebius syndrome cannot smile or frown, and do not have lateral eye movements.

In many cases, people with Moebius syndrome are born with a small chin and a small mouth with a short or unusually shaped tongue. The roof of the mouth may have an abnormal opening like cleft palate. These abnormalities contribute to problems with speech, which occur in many children with Moebius syndrome. This disorder also affects muscles that control back-and-forth eye movement. Affected individuals must move their head from side to side to read or follow the movement of objects. People with Moebius Syndrome have difficulty making eye contact. And to top it, the eyelids may not close completely when blinking or sleeping, which can result in dry or irritated eyes.

Other symptoms of Moebius syndrome can include bone abnormalities in the hands and feet, weak muscle tone and hearing loss. Due to these symptoms, affected children often experience delayed development of motor skills like crawling and walking, although eventually most of them acquire these skills.

Some research studies have suggested that children with Moebius syndrome are more likely than unaffected children to have characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, which are a group of conditions characterized by impaired communication and social interaction. However, it is difficult to underline this fact because people with Moebius syndrome have difficulty with eye contact and speech due to their physical differences, so autism spectrum disorders can be difficult to diagnose in these individuals. Moebius syndrome may also be associated with an increased risk of intellectual disability, but that could be because of the other symptoms associated with this disorder. However, it has been seen that most affected individuals have normal intelligence.

The incidence of this disorder is said to be around 2 to 20 per million people. It is caused due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The disorder appears to be associated with changes in particular regions of chromosomes 3, 10, or 13 in some families. Certain medications taken during pregnancy and abuse of drugs such as cocaine may also contribute to the risk factors for Moebius syndrome.

Treatment for this disorder is often symptomatic and there is no permanent cure for this. Sometimes surgical help is required to attend to some of the symptoms like club feet or cleft palate, but it is not curative of the underlying syndrome.

Symptoms

  • Lack of facial expression, inability to smile or frown
  • Feeding, swallowing and choking problems
  • Motor delays due to upper body weakness
  • Absence of lateral eye movement
  • Absence of blinking
  • Drooling
  • Cleft palate
  • Short or deformed tongue
  • Limited movement of tongue
  • Dental problems
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech disorders
  • Club feet
  • Hand/feet deformities

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