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Mobius Syndrome

Mobius syndrome is a rare birth defect caused by the absence or underdevelopment of the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, which control eye movements and facial expression. The first symptom, present at birth, is an inability to suck. Other symptoms can include: feeding, swallowing, and choking problems; excessive drooling; crossed eyes; lack of facial expression; inability to smile; eye sensitivity; motor delays; high or cleft palate; hearing problems; and speech difficulties. Small or absent brain stem nuclei that control the cranial nerves, as well as decreased numbers of muscle fibers, have been reported. Deformities of the tongue, jaw, and limbs, such as clubfoot and missing or webbed fingers, may also occur. As children get older, lack of facial expression and inability to smile become the dominant visible symptoms. The prognosis for otherwise normal development is excellent in most cases.

Symptoms of Mobius Syndrome

  • Limb abnormalities—clubbed feet, missing fingers or toes
  • Chest-wall abnormalities (Poland Syndrome)
  • Crossed eyes (strabismus)
  • Difficulty in breathing and/or in swallowing
  • Corneal erosion resulting from difficulty in blinking


Is there any treatment for Mobius Syndrome?

There is no specific course of treatment for Mobius syndrome. Treatment is supportive and in accordance with symptoms. Infants may require feeding tubes or special bottles to maintain sufficient nutrition. Surgery may correct crossed eyes and improve limb and jaw deformities. Physical and speech therapy often improves motor skills and coordination, and leads to better control of speaking and eating abilities. Plastic reconstructive surgery may be beneficial in some individuals. Nerve and muscle transfers to the corners of the mouth have been performed to provide limited ability to smile.

Coping with Mobius Syndrome

Many people with Möbius syndrome lead full lives and experience personal and professional success. Facial expression is important in social interaction, and other people may have difficulty recognizing the emotions of people with Möbius. A person with Möbius syndrome who cannot smile may appear unfriendly or uninterested in a conversation. However, friends and family who are familiar with the person with Möbius syndrome learn to recognize other signals of emotion such as body language, and they sometimes report forgetting that the person has facial paralysis altogether. People with Möbius syndrome can use alternative methods to communicate emotion—such as body language, posture, and vocal tone

What is the prognosis for Mobius Syndrome?

There is no cure for Mobius syndrome. In spite of the impairments that characterize the disorder, proper care and treatment give many individuals a normal life expectancy.

What research is being done for Mobius Syndrome?

The NINDS conducts and supports a broad range of research on neurogenetic disorders, including Mobius syndrome. The goals of these studies are to develop improved techniques to diagnose, treat, and eventually cure these disorders.

Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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