Do children with Bell's palsy benefit from steroid treatment? A systematic review

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Jul;76(7):921-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2012.02.044. Epub 2012 Apr 13.


Objective: To conduct an updated systematic review on the outcome of Bell's palsy (BP) in children following steroid treatment.

Data sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library and BIOSIS Previews electronic databases were searched obtaining articles published between 2000 and 2010 without any language restriction.

Review methods: Articles describing children aged 0-18 years with BP treated solely with corticosteroids were included. In studies including various etiologies for facial palsy; cases of BP treated with steroids were selected and when available, untreated patients as well for comparison. The outcome measure was facial movements following steroidal treatment based on different clinical scales. Controlled clinical trials, prospective and historical cohort studies, cross sectional studies and case series were included.

Results: A total of 2293 papers were initially identified. Following review by two authors, 68 papers were analyzed in a hard-copy format. Finally, 6 studies were eligible to be included in the systematic review. Four of the studies included children with BP exclusively while the remaining studies described various etiologies of facial palsy. Type of steroid and duration of treatment were inconsistently specified. Outcome measures used include the House-Brackmann scale, Yanagihara grading system and clinical evaluation. Studies analyzed were retrospective cohorts or case-series and were categorized as level 4 of evidence.

Conclusion: There were no controlled trials and level 4 publications predominate. Therefore, the role of steroid treatment for BP in children is still inconclusive. Further studies are required.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bell Palsy / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn


  • Glucocorticoids