Mobius Syndrome, Moebius Syndromeexternal image kind.jpg
Moebius Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects primarily the sixth and seventh cranial nerves which are responsible for various facial movements. Depending on the severity, other cranial nerves can be affected as well as other systems of the body.
Symptoms may include the following:

  • Inability to move eyes laterally
  • Issues with swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Inability to blink causing eye sensitivity
  • Issues with speech and hearing
  • High, possibly cleft palate
  • Upper body weakness causing delays in motor skills
  • Crossed eyes
  • Oral cavity, hand/feet deformities


Research points to a genetic etiology, however other theories for the manifestations of Moebius Syndrome have been proposed. Chromosome 13Q12.2-q13 has been identified, but hereditary paralysis has also been implicated. Several other theories include muscular disorder, cranial nerve aplasia, or damage to cranial nuclei (Zuker & Manktelow, 2000).

A sufferer of Moebius Syndrome will undoubtedly need speech therapy to assist with the articulatory problems rendered by the disorder. There is also a surgery called a Smile-Surgery specifically aimed at individuals with Moebius Syndrome. It involves healthy muscle being taken from the thigh and transplanted into the face. The muscle and facial nerves are attached. The muscle nerve begins to assist the facial muscles allowing the lips to seal and providing better support. This also enables the individual to articulate with more accuracy and to smile (Zuker, Manktelow.)

I. Nervous System

Moebius Syndrome manifests itself in individuals through damage or paralysis to the VI and VII cranial nerves. Other nerves can be affected depending on the severity of the case. The VII cranial nerve, also known as the facial nerve is responsible for all muscles of facial expression. Some of these muscles include the orbicularis oris, the risorius, and the buccinator. Damage to these muscles can account for an individual with Moebius Syndrome being unable to smile and the excessive drooling partially due to the inability to seal the lips. The VI cranial nerve, also known as the abducens nerve is responsible for individuals with Moebius being unable to blink and causing strabismus or crossed eyes.

II. Respiratory System

There are no resources that state that the respiratory system (structures involves in respiration) is directly affected. However, if the individual with Moebius Syndrome has a cleft palate, the air used for speech could be escaping through the nasal cavity; hypernasality.

III. Phonatory System

There are no resources that state that the phonatory system is affected.

IV. Articulatory System

One of the first signs of Moebius Syndrome after birth is the inability to suck. This involves pursing the lips and significant labial muscular control. The lack of support of the lips leads to the common symptom of drooling (Zuker, Manktelow.) This causes an issue in articulating bilabial sounds such as /p/ and/b/. The ninth and twelth cranial nerves can be affected by Moebius Syndrome. This restricts the movement of the tongue which would not allow for certain speech sounds to be made without difficulty. Another severe symptom of Moebius is a high or even a cleft palate. Depending on the nature of the cleft, it could impact speech as well. For example, if the cleft involved the hard palate and velum, the individual may have trouble with hypernasality which means that the too much of the air for speech escapes through the nasal cavity. The individual may also have trouble producing velar sounds such as /k/ and /g/. The combination of the ninth and tenth cranial nerves account for the abnormal swallowing and nasal speech.

V. Auditory System

In extremely rare cases of Moebius Syndrome the VIII cranial nerve also known as the auditory nerve can also be affected.

VI. Overall effect on speech production ​

Moebius Syndrome is a neurological disorder affecting mainly the VI and VII cranial nerves, but can affect others as well. The VII cranial nerve is extremely important in facial expression and labial support which also contributes to the articulatory system. Depending on the severity, deformities in the oral cavity and lack of muscle support in the face may prevent the individual to produce certain sounds. The lack of muscle support for the lips poses a problem for producing bilabial sounds. The possibilty of any sort of cleft palate may not allow for hard palate or velar sounds to be produced.

Video of a young girl with Moebius Syndrome

Introduction of Meobius Syndrome Video

Citation List
Zuker, R., & Manktelow, R. (2000). Moebius Syndrome. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from

Kremer, H. (1996, June 27).
Localization of a gene for Möbius syndrome to chromosome 3q by linkage analysis in a Dutch family. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from

McCarrell, V. (2007).
What Is Moebius Syndrome?. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from

Craniofacial anomalies – Moebius syndrome (2010). Retrieved June 24, 2010, from

Center, N. (2009, August 3).
FACIAL NERVE (VII) DISORDERS. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from