To describe the epidemiology, pathophysiology, presentation, treatment, and prognosis of Bell's palsy (BP) in pregnancy.
The incidence of BP in pregnant women is not significantly greater than expected compared to all women of childbearing age. There is a high incidence of cases in the third trimester and corresponding low incidence during early pregnancy.
There is no conclusive evidence that the etiology of BP in pregnancy is different than in nonpregnant patients. Altered susceptibility to herpes simplex viral reactivation during pregnancy is the most likely explanation for concentration of cases in the third trimester. Outcome may be poorer in pregnant patients, though historically, treatment is often withheld from these patients.
Management of BP in pregnancy can mirror that of nonpregnant individuals with the exception of first-trimester cases.