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Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2000 Mar;55(3):184-8.

Bell palsy complicating pregnancy: a review.

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  • 1Maternal Fetal Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.


The aim of the present work was to review the published evidence on the association of Bell palsy (BP), an acute idiopathic peripheral facial paralysis of unknown etiology, with pregnancy. Reports have shown that women of reproductive age are affected two to four times more often than men of the same age, and pregnant women 3.3 times more often than nonpregnant women. The apparent predisposition of pregnant women to Bell palsy has been attributed to the high extracellular fluid content, viral inflammation, and immunosuppression characteristic of pregnancy, but findings are controversial. Most cases of Bell palsy occur in the third trimester or the puerperium. Onset is acute and painful. Some authors suggest that Bell palsy increases the risk of hypertension and toxemia of pregnancy, whereas the pregnant state, in turn, may affect the course and severity of disease. Recovery is usually good; poor prognostic markers are recurrence in subsequent pregnancy and bilateral disease, both of which are rare. Neonatal outcome is apparently unaffected, although this has been studied rarely. The preferred mode of management remains undecided; it is usually confined to supportive care. Corticosteroids in pregnancy are controversial. We think clinicians should be aware of these findings to avoid unnecessary testing and treatment and to help the patient cope with this acute, painful disease.


Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians


After completion of this article, the reader will be able to identify the potential etiologies of Bell palsy associated with pregnancy and to describe the clinical presentation of this condition in pregnancy and its likelihood for recovery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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