Hemifacial microsomia (HFM) is a congenital problem. This means that your child is born with it. In this condition, 1 side of your baby’s face is underdeveloped (hemi means half). HFM usually only affects 1 side of the face. Sometimes both sides may be affected. This condition shares features with another condition called Treacher Collins syndrome.
This condition often happens by chance. It commonly develops during the fetal stage of pregnancy at around 4 weeks gestation because of vascular problems causing poor blood supply to the face. It may also run in some families. HFM may be passed on (inherited) in the following ways:
This condition may also occur in children with other chromosome abnormalities. Chromosomes are the structures in our cells that carry our genes. These types of abnormalities often occur by chance.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. The deformities caused by HFM vary. They may range from mild to severe. Different areas of the face may be involved. The following may be underdeveloped in HFM:
In some babies, other parts of the body may also be affected by HFM.
Geneticists often diagnose HFM. A geneticist is a doctor with special training to diagnose and treat conditions passed down in families (genetic condition). Your child’s doctor will look at his or her health history. Your child will also have an exam. Your child’s doctor may also do imaging tests to make the diagnosis.
These tests may include:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
If your child has severe symptoms, he or she may need several surgeries. In this case, your child will be checked by a craniofacial anomalies team. This is a group of doctors who diagnose and treat face defects.
Your child’s treatment may include:
If your child has a mild defect, he or she may not be at risk for complications. Children with more severe defects may be more likely to have issues. These can include hearing loss, eating problems, and trouble with self-image.
Your child may have hearing loss or eating problems related to HFM. Your child will need to be under the care a team of craniofacial anomaly experts. This team may include:
HFM support groups can help you and your child. Ask your child’s healthcare provider about support groups in your area.
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has any new symptoms. These can include trouble eating or gaining weight.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: