MICROCEPHALY

a condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain does not grow at the expected rate.

There are TWO TYPES :

1. Primary microcephalus occurs with no identifiable cause as an inherited trait in families where many members are born with small head sizes.

2. Secondary microcephalus occurs when the brain's growth is decreased because of conditions that can be identified: chromosomal anomaly such as Down syndrome, metabolic disorders, or lack of oxygen early in life.


The majority of head growth occurs in the first 3 years of life.The number of children with primary microcephalus is 1 in 40,000 live births, making this a rare condition.

Causes

  1. Craniosynostosis- The premature fusing of the joints (sutures) between the bony plates that form an infant's skull keeps the brain from growing.
  2. Chromosomal abnormalities
  3. Decreased oxygen to the fetal brain
  4. Infections to the fetus during pregnancy
  5. Exposure to drugs, alcohol, or certain toxic chemicals in the womb
  6. Severe malnutrition
  7. Uncontrolled Phenylketonuria (PKU)- A birth defect that hampers the body's ability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine in the mother

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  •   A smaller than normal head circumference that usually remains smaller than normal as the child grows
  • Dwarfism or short stature
  • Delayed motor and speech functions
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures
  • Facial distortions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Balance and Coordination problems
  • Other brain-related or neurological problems

Treatments and Diagnosis

Doctors will likely take a prenatal, birth and family history exam as well as a physical exam. They will also measure the circumference of the child's head and compare it with a growth chart. Which than will probably result in a request for a MRI and blood tests.

Except for surgery for Craniosynostosis there's NO TREATMENT that will enlarge a child's head or reverse complications of the condition. Research is ongoing, they found that amino acid therapy may reduce seizure activity in some patients. Certain complications may be treated with medication.

Thing's a parent who's child has microcephaly or believes their child may have it can do at their doctor appointment?

  • Write down any concerns
  • Take a family member or friend along
  • Write down questions to ask

USEFUL ONLINE RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND FAMILIES

September 30th

IS NATIONAL MICROCEPHALY AWARENESS DAY(wear YELLOW)

REFERENCES

Foundation for Children with Microcephaly. (2015) . Retrieved from:

http://childrenwithmicro.org/

Mayo Clinic: Micorcephaly Information and support. (2015). Retrieved from:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/microcephaly/DS01...

Minnesota Department of Health. (2015) . Microcephalus topic page. Retrieved from :

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/cfh/topic/diseasesconds/microcephalus.cfm

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