Six-year-old Nottingham girl Mia Blackwell cannot smile

Mia Blackwell
Image caption Mia Blackwell holds a finger to the side of her face if she is happy

The family of a six-year-old girl with a rare syndrome which means she cannot smile said they are desperate for more research into the condition.

Mia Blackwell, from Bilborough in Nottingham, is one of 124 people in the UK with the rare Moebius Syndrome, which causes facial paralysis.

Gemma Blackwell, Mia's mother, said there was little known about how it was caused or what the future held.

She has started fundraising to help the Moebius Research Trust.

The trust needs to raise £250,000 in order to begin research into the condition.

Genetics techniques

Mrs Blackwell said: "I want Mia to meet other people that are like her and have got this condition.

"It's heartbreaking that research can't be done until this money has been raised, for Mia it's not going to make any difference but it would be nice to help other families in the future."

Dr Toni Wolff, a paediatrician at Nottingham City Hospital, helped diagnose Mia and said research was desperately needed.

"I had not seen [the condition] before and we were excited to meet Mia," she said.

"Because [Moebius Syndrome] is quite rare it hasn't been prioritised."

Dr Wolff said new genetics techniques might be able to help if a group of children with the condition could be brought together.

Mrs Blackwell said: "You have to have a thick skin, it's not obvious what Mia's condition is [so] people will say 'she looks like she's got the weight of the world on her shoulders'.

"We just sort of laugh it off."

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