Description of the Moebius syndrome

The medical condition was first described in 1888 by Paul Julius Möbius, a neurologist from Leipzig, Germany. It was later named after him. The Moebius syndrome is a very rare medical condition.

According to Wiedemann/Kunze (1995), about 180 cases of Moebius have been reported between the years 1888 and 1980. In contrast to that research, the worldwide number of children with the diagnosis of Moebius syndrome has been on the rise in the last quarter of the 20th century. However, the medical literature doesn’t cover publications about systematic studies which deal with the occurrence of Moebius. Many doctors and geneticists have no knowledge of the syndrome. Diagnosis of the condition is presumably very difficult. It often may just be diagnosed by a person who has experience with the Moebius syndrome. The confirmation, which happens commonly by visual diagnosis, requires having seen several Moebius patients and therefore having the necessary expertise.

In scientific literature, the condition is also known as Moebius sequence, because it may overlap with other syndromes according to Müller (1996). This results in a variety of symptoms. Leiber (1990) calls it a complex of symptoms. Correspondingly, the Moebius syndrome is always described as a facialis-abducens-paresis. That means, the cranial nerves VII. (facial nerve, Latin nervus facialis) and VI. (abducens nerve or Latin nervus abducens) are paralyzed. In most cases, it is a total paralysis. But it is possible that the nerves may only be partially paralyzed (paresis). Other cranial nerves may as well be affected, as recent descriptions of the syndrome report, for example Siemens/Gelhoff (1980) and Zuker (1998). In about one quarter of the cases, the cranial nerves III. (ocularmotor nerve or Latin nervus oculomotoris) and XII. (hypoglossal nerve, nervus hypoglossus) are partially paralyzed. In their examinations, Wiedemann (1995), Kumar (1990) and Noah (1996) show abnomalies in the cranial nerves IV. (trochlear nerve, or nervus trochlearis), V. (trigeminal nerve, or nervus trigeminus), IX. (glossopharyngeal nerve, or nervus glossopharyngeus) and X. (vagus nerve, or nervus vagus). The remaining cranial nerves (I., II., VIII., XI.) are quite rarely damaged.

Literature references:

  • Kumar, D. (1990): Moebius syndrome. Journal of Medical Genetics, 27, 122-126.
  • Leiber, B. (1990). Die klinischen Syndrome. Band 1, 7. Auflage. München: Urban&Schwarzenberg.
  • Sarimski, K. (1997). Moebius-Syndrom – Entwicklungsbeobachtungen an sechs Kindern vor Schuleintritt. Hautnah Pädiatrie, 7, 496-502.
  • Siemens, H. & Gelhoff, M. (1980). Moebius-Syndrom. Pädiat. Praxis, 23, 249-252.
  • Wiedemann, H.R. & Kunze, J. (1995). Atlas der klinischen Syndrome für Klinik und Praxis. 4. Auflage. Stuttgart: Schattenzer Verlag.
  • Zuker, R. M.: Facial Animation in Children with Möbius Syndrome after Segmental Gracilis Muscle Transplant. From the Division of Plastic Surgery, presented at the 77th Annual American Association of Plastic Surgeons, in Montreal, Canada, 15-17 May 1998.
  • Wolffersdorf, geb. Richter, A. (2002). Möbius-Syndrom – Ein Krankheitsbild mit Hirnnervenlähmungen.
  • Moebius Syndrom Deutschland e. V. wants to thank Anja Wolffersdorf. She wrote the text above for one of her term papers during her course of study.

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