Local research brings hope to children with Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s Palsy is condition where one-side of your face suddenly and becomes weak or paralysed – causing that side of the face to droop. There’s no known cause, and it’s the third most-common neurological reason for children to end up in a hospital emergency department.

But researchers at the Gold Coast University Hospital are taking part in a new study that hopes to use steroids to treat children with Bell’s Palsy.

Paediatric Emergency Physician at the Gold Coast University Hospital, Dr Shane George, is leading the research for Gold Coast Health, and said the research should help medical professionals in both Australia and New Zealand to better treat the condition in children.


“There is no known cause for Bell’s Palsy which primarily affects the eyes and mouth, although the majority of patients fully recover within a year,” Dr George said.

“In this trial, we are looking at the effectiveness and safety of treating children aged between 6 months and 18 years with prednisolone – a cheap, safe and widely available steroid which is taken orally.”

Dr George said there is definitive evidence from two recent, large-scale trials that prednisolone significantly increases the number of adults with the condition to recover completely. But, until now, there is no evidence that the drug is also an effective treatment for children.

The trial will also look at the psychological impact of the temporary disfigurement caused by the facial weakness.

“We follow the children involved in the study for a period of 12 months and investigate the social and emotional effects on the children.”

Queensland Health, through the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), has provided Gold Coast University Hospital with a grant to take part in the trial – with the funding also allowing the trial to expand to Logan and Townsville Hospitals.

The trial requires 540 participants and will be run in 12 hospitals across Australia and New Zealand. For more information, visit this website.