Is there a genetic etiology of Bell palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis) (IFP)?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019
  • Author: Danette C Taylor, DO, MS, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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A family history of Bell palsy has been reported in approximately 4% of cases. Inheritance in such cases may be autosomal dominant with low penetration; however, which predisposing factors are inherited is unclear. [25] The family history may also be positive for other nerve, nerve root, or plexus disorders (eg, trigeminal neuralgia) in siblings. [26] In addition, there are isolated reports of familial Bell palsy with neurologic deficits, including ophthalmoplegia [27] and essential tremor. [28] A rare form of familial Bell palsy has a predilection for juvenile females. [29]

Because there is a strong environmental predisposition to Bell palsy, due to the common viral etiology, a positive family history may or may not indicate a true genetic etiology.

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