Facial palsy in individuals with thalidomide embryopathy: frequency and characteristics

J Laryngol Otol. 2012 Sep;126(9):902-6. doi: 10.1017/S0022215112001429.


Background: Earlier studies have shown that individuals with thalidomide embryopathy can have skeletal deformities, ear and eye aberrations, and facial palsy. This study aimed to survey the frequency and characteristics of facial palsy in this group of individuals.

Participants: Thirty-one individuals with thalidomide embryopathy (age range, 45-47 years) and 25 healthy adults (age range, 41-56 years; mean age ± standard deviation, 49 ± 4.2 years).

Main outcome measures: Voluntary facial movements, lip force and three-dimensional lip motion analysis.

Results and conclusion: Four of the thalidomide embryopathy individuals (13 per cent) had congenital facial palsy. All four had eye aberrations, three had ear anomalies and one had a limb anomaly. Individuals with thalidomide embryopathy without a clinical diagnosis of facial impairment had significantly weaker lips and more restricted lip mobility than healthy controls. This study contributes to the overall knowledge of thalidomide embryopathy by adding a description of how facial expression can be affected in this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Facial Expression
  • Facial Paralysis / congenital
  • Facial Paralysis / epidemiology*
  • Facial Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lip / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sweden
  • Teratogens / toxicity*
  • Thalidomide / adverse effects*


  • Teratogens
  • Thalidomide