Objective: To study facial nerve recovery in patients with Bell's palsy of pregnancy compared with that of the nonpregnant population.
Methods: A retrospective chart analysis was conducted of all patients seen within 6 weeks of the onset of Bell's palsy of pregnancy, with a minimum of 1-year follow-up. Recovery outcomes were compared with similarly chosen randomly selected groups of nonpregnant females 15 to 40 years old (group 1), nonpregnant females of all ages (group 2), males 15 to 40 years old (group 3), and males of all ages (group 4), all of whom were also seen within 6 weeks of onset. Recovery was categorized as satisfactory (House-Brackmann grade I to II) or unsatisfactory (House-Brackmann grade III or IV). The 2-tailed Fisher exact test was used to statistically analyze differences between groups.
Results: Fifty-two percent of women with Bell's palsy of pregnancy whose facial palsy progressed to complete paralysis within 10 days of onset recovered to a satisfactory level compared with 77% to 88% of comparison patients. These differences were statistically significant in all cases. Recovery for those with an incomplete palsy was satisfactory in virtually 100% of all patients studied.
Conclusion: The prognosis for a satisfactory recovery for women who develop a complete facial paralysis with Bell's palsy while pregnant is significantly worse than for that for the general population. This information should be taken into consideration by all physicians involved in the counseling of these patients.