Clinics and Departments
Pierre Robin Sequence
What is it?
Pierre Robin sequence is a combination of issues which begin with a small lower jaw (also called micrognathia). The jaw makes the tongue sit in the back of the mouth, which in turn can cause breathing problems and possibly a cleft palate (PDF), Sometimes, Pierre Robin sequence is a symptom of another syndrome, such as Stickler syndrome or velocardiofacial syndrome.
Children with Pierre Robin sequence can have difficulty breathing and eating. In severe cases of Pierre Robin sequence, when a child is crying or straining, he or she may appear to breathe alright because they are straining to keep the airway open. However, when the child relaxes or falls asleep, the airway is obstructed. This can lead to exhaustion and even heart failure if it is not diagnosed and treated promptly.
What is the cause?
Some of the syndromes that cause Pierre Robin sequence are genetic; when Pierre Robin sequence occurs alone (i.e. when it’s not part of a syndrome) its cause is unknown.
How is it treated?
Pierre Robin sequence may involve non-surgical care or it could require multiple surgeries, depending on your child’s unique condition. The majority of children with Pierre Robin sequence grow out of the condition as their jaws grow and develop. These children must lay tummy-down because the position causes the jaw and tongue to fall forward and open the airway wider.
In serious cases of this condition, one or more surgeries may be necessary. Possible surgeries include:
About surgery at Children’s for ENT issues related to Pierre Robin sequence
The ENT surgery team at Children’s provides next-generation care to neonatal infants, newborns, children, and adolescents from throughout the Upper Midwest. This multidisciplinary team provides some of the most cutting-edge, delicate treatments available, including newborn surgery and minimally invasive surgery. Otolaryngology surgery is performed at Children’s - Minneapolis, Children’s - St. Paul, and Children’s West.
If you are a family member looking for a Children’s ENT specialist, visit Find a Doctor.
If you are a health professional looking for a consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Referral at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).
Return to Children’s ENT surgery home page.
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