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Hemifacial Microsomia (HFM)

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Hemifacial microsomia (HFM) is a type of craniofacial birth defect — the second most common after cleft lip/cleft palate. In a child born with hemifacial microsomia, one side of the face is smaller (“micro”) or less developed than the other side. In some mild cases the symptoms of hemifacial microsomia are barely noticeable; in moderate to severe cases the condition creates more significant deformities of the ears, mouth, and jaw. In less common cases, both sides of the face can be affected.

Other names for hemifacial microsomia are craniofacial microsomia, Goldenhar syndrome, first and second branchial arch syndrome, otomandibular dysostosis, facio-auriculo-vertebral syndrome (FAV), oculo-auriculo-vertebral spectrum (OAV), or lateral facial dysplasia.

What Causes Hemifacial Microsomia?

Hemifacial microsomia is a birth defect that usually occurs by chance, although in some families it may be inherited. If one child in a family has hemifacial microsomia, odds of another child having it are 2 to 3 percent. The condition may be mild in one child but more severe in another. Hemifacial microsomia can also be found in children with other chromosome abnormalities.

The Craniofacial Program at Weill Cornell treats a wide variety of craniofacial anomalies, including hemifacial microsomia. For more information, contact Michelle Buontempo, Craniofacial Program Coordinator, at 212-746-1274, or use our online form to request an appointment.

(Find out more about the Craniofacial Program at the Weill Cornell Medicine Pediatric Otolaryngology service.)

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Reviewed by: Mark M. Souweidane, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: January 2019