Pierre Robin syndrome (or sequence) is a condition present at birth, in which the infant has a smaller-than-normal lower jaw, a tongue that falls back in the throat, and difficulty breathing.
The exact causes of Pierre Robin syndrome are unknown. It may be part of many genetic syndromes.
The lower jaw develops slowly before birth, but speeds up during the first year of life.
A health care provider can usually diagnose this condition during a physical exam. Consulting with a genetics specialist can rule out other problems linked to this syndrome.
Infants with this condition should NOT be put on their back, to prevent the tongue from falling back into the airway.
In moderate cases, the patient will need to have a tube placed through the nose and into the airways to avoid airway blockage. In severe cases, surgery is needed to prevent a blockage in the upper airway. Some patients need surgery to make a hole in the windpipe (tracheostomy).
Feeding must be done very carefully to avoid choking and breathing liquids into the airways. The child may need to be fed through a tube sometimes to prevent choking.
For support and information, see www.pierrerobin.org and www.cleftline.org.
Choking and feeding problems may go away on their own over the first few years as the lower jaw grows to a more normal size. There is a significant risk of problems if the airways are not protected against blockage.
This condition is often seen at birth.
Call your health care provider if your child has choking episodes or breathing problems. A blockage of the airways may cause a high-pitched crowing noise when the child breathes in. It can also lead to blueness of the skin (cyanosis).
Also call if your child has other breathing problems.
There is no known prevention. Treatment may reduce the episodes of breathing problems and choking.
Pierre Robin sequence; Pierre Robin complex; Pierre Robin anomaly
Breugem CC, Mink van der Molen AB. What is 'Pierre Robin sequence?' J Plastic Reconstruct Aesthetic Surg. 2009;62:1555-1558.
Syndromes with oral manifestations. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 308.
Updated by: Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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