Children with craniofacial microsomia (CFM) have a small or underdeveloped part of the face, usually the ear and jaw. The eye, cheek and neck may also be affected.
This is the second-most common facial birth defect after clefts.
Craniofacial microsomia has many other names, including hemifacial microsomia, first and second branchial arch syndrome, otomandibular dysostosis, oculo-auriculo-vertebral sequence, facio-auriculo vertebral syndrome, Goldenhar syndrome and lateral facial dysplasia.
We don’t know why children are born with craniofacial microsomia, but we believe that something affects the development of the face during early pregnancy because the process starts in the first three months. However, it is clear that CFM is not caused by anything the parent did or did not do.
For most children, craniofacial microsomia is not inherited and it won’t be passed on from a parent to a child.
However, if a couple has had a child with craniofacial microsomia, the chance that they will have another child with CFM is about 3%.
Rare families have a higher chance of having another child with CFM. For children who have a family history of relatives with similar facial differences, we recommend a referral to a geneticist and/or a genetic counselor.
The counselor will talk about the chance of having another child with similar differences, as well as other family planning issues.