Background: This study is a thorough literature review of the clinical presentation and evaluation of developmental facial paralysis, with a systematic description of the various stigmata and associated anomalies. It is hoped that this approach will facilitate the differentiation of developmental facial paralysis from other causes of facial paralysis present at birth.
Methods: Forty-two cases of developmental facial paralysis were identified in a retrospective clinical review (1980 to 2010); 34 were children (80.95 percent; age, 8 ± 6 years) and eight were adults (19.05 percent; age, 27 ± 12 years). Thirty-one patients had simple developmental paralysis, and two patients had developmental unilateral lower lip palsy. There were nine patients with associated anomalies or craniofacial syndromes. Five of these patients had multiple cranial nerve deficits.
Results: Analysis of the various stigmata revealed significant correlation between the presence of developmental facial paralysis and amblyopia, hypoplastic facial nerve on imaging or surgical exploration, lower alar atresia, and skin changes (i.e., acne), but not the ear abnormalities.
Conclusions: Early targeted screening and diagnosis, with prompt specialized treatment, improves the physical and emotional development of children with developmental facial paralysis and reduces the prevalence of amblyopia and other sequelae of the condition, thus facilitating reintegration among their peers. Given the dramatic presentation of this condition, accurate and reliable guidelines are necessary to facilitate early diagnosis, initiate appropriate therapy, and provide support and counseling to the family.