What is Hemifacial Microsomia?

Next to Down Syndrome, hemifacial microsomia (HFM) is the most common congenital syndrome (one in 3,500 live births).

Hemifacial Microsomia begins early in pregnancy, while the baby's head and face are developing. One side of the face grows at a slower rate than the other side. From about six weeks of age and older, the affected side will become more and more imbalanced, visible specifically in the jaw, mouth, outer and inner ear, cheeks and possibly the eyes.

Most often, hemifacial microsomia affects one side of the face (15 percent of the time it affects both sides). Usually, it’s immediately obvious in the lower jaw (mandible).  Also, it is visible in imbalances of the mouth, ear, eyes and upper facial bones. In extreme cases, the ear and/or eye may be either much smaller than normal or absent. The growth rate difference continues throughout childhood and adolescence, creating further irregularities and imbalances. By the age of 16 to 18 (sooner in girls), the child’s face will reach its full adult size, allowing more extensive and lasting correction.

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