Infant Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is defined as paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. Although not typically a long-term condition, it can lead to serious to health complications. There is still ongoing research to determine more about the causes of Bell’s palsy.

Bell’s Palsy Symptoms

 The symptoms are usually obvious, including is a droopiness or paralysis to the facial muscles. Other symptoms can include:

  • Excessive tearing or excessively dry eyes
  • Increased ear sensitivity, specifically to sound
  • Drooling
  • Loss of or decreased sense of taste
  • One-sided smile

How Does Bell’s Palsy Happen?

Some people assume that Bell’s palsy is a result of stroke or a result of ischemic attacks which happen to babies that have been deprived of oxygen too long.

While doctors know that neither of these are the causes of  Infant Bell’s palsy, they don’t quite know yet what the exact cause is. Recent studies suggest that it is caused by the herpes virus or by cold sores, and that the virus is passed onto the baby from maternal infection.

In other instances, Bell’s palsy has been linked to upper respiratory infections, including the common cold and the flu.

Can Bell’s Palsy Be Prevented?

It is the doctor’s responsibility to make sure that the herpes virus and other maternal infections are not passed from the mother to the baby.

While most doctors are hesitant to treat viruses through medication so as not to hurt the baby with those medications, Bell’s palsy could be very painful and dangerous for babies, as it is a form of paralysis or nerve damage.

What Tests Can Confirm My Baby Has Bell’s Palsy?

The symptoms of Bell’s palsy are pretty clear, and your physician can usually spot the symptoms right away. However, a doctor can also conduct a number of evoked potential tests, challenging the baby’s sensory perception, the baby’s hearing, and the baby’s sight.

If you require further testing, your doctor can order a CT scan or an MRI, a medical imaging tests that creates a picture of how the nerves sit within the muscles.

An Electroencephalogram (EEG) can also test the electrical and neurological movement within those nerves to be sure that the nerves are functioning properly and that they’re communicating signals effectively.

Is Bell’s Palsy Permanent?

Most cases of Bell’s palsy are  not permanent. Mild cases of Bell’s palsy go away without treatment after one or two months. Mild to severe cases of Bell’s palsy go away with medication such as Cortiocosteroid or Acyclovir.

Severe cases of Bell’s palsy reflect sometimes permanent weakness and nerve damage in the affected area of the face, though movement to the face will generally return.

In addition, severe cases may also damage the eye on the affected side of the face, leading to partial or full blindness. It’s important to discuss treatment options with your doctor, especially if your baby is tugging at and trying to scratch the affected eye. If your baby’s eye is extremely dry, artificial tears may be recommended.