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Defining the causes of pediatric facial nerve paralysis

For new parents in New York, perhaps nothing is better than the emotion felt the first time they look into their newborn babies’ faces. Sadly, the joy that comes with delivery can be marred if mothers and/or babies experience complications. One such complication that can affect that first moment shared between parents and babies is a condition known as pediatric facial nerve palsy, or the loss of controllable movement in a baby’s face.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, pediatric facial nerve palsy occurs when the seventh cranial nerve sustains damage before or during delivery. Common symptoms of this condition include an infant being unable to close his or her eyelids on the affected side, or areas below the eyes moving unevenly when a baby is crying. In severe cases, one may not be able to notice any movement from the forehead to the chin on one side of a baby’s face.

Oftentimes, this paralysis is only temporary and will resolve itself within a few months. Yet during that time, skin and tissue irritation can occur, as well as issues with an infant’s eye if he or she is unable to close it all the way. Such problems may require treatment with prescription eyedrops or an eyepad. In cases where the paralysis does not go away on its own, surgery may be required to repair the damaged cranial nerve.

Information shared by the National Institutes of Health shows that, while the etiology of pediatric facial nerve palsy may be unknown in some cases, it is often identified as being congenital. Factors that may contribute to the trauma that causes this can include:

  • First-time births
  • Babies with large birth weights
  • Prematurity

The improper use of forceps or tools required for C-sections by providers can also contribute to this condition.

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