What is Moebius Syndrome?

Moebius Syndrome is an extremely rare congenital neurological disorder which is characterized by facial paralysis and the inability tomove the eyes from side to side. Most people with Moebius syndrome are born with facial paralysis, which means they cannot close their eyes or form facial expressions. Limb and chest wall abnormalities sometimes occur with the syndrome. Most people with Moebius syndrome have normal intelligence, and others should take care not to confuse their lack of facial expression with dullness or unfriendliness. It is named for Paul Jullius Mobius, a neurologist who first described the syndrome in 1888.


Moebius syndrome results from the underdevelopment of the sixth and seventh cranial nerve. The sixth cranial nerve controls lateral eye movement, and the seventh cranial nerve controls facial expression. People with Möbius syndrome are born with facial paralysis and the inability to move their eyes laterally. Often, the upper lip is retracted due to muscle shrinkage. Occasionally, the cranial nerves five and eight are affected. If cranial eight is affected, the person experiences hearing loss.

It is estimated that there are, on average, 2 to 20 cases of Moebius syndrome per million births. Although its rarity often leads to late diagnosis, infants with this disorder can be identified at birth by a “mask-like” lack of expression that is detectable during crying or laughing and by an inability to suck while nursing because of paresis (palsy) of the sixth and seventh cranial nerves. Also, because a person with Moebius syndrome cannot follow objects by moving their eyes from side to side, they turn their head instead.

For more information about Moebius Syndrome, please visit www.ManyFacesOfMoebiusSyndrome.org