Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes a baby’s head to be smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or stops growing at birth.
Children with microcephaly may reach goals and milestones more slowly, but most can go to school, get jobs, and enjoy many of the same kinds of things that other kids do.
Microcephaly may be inherited, which means that it is passed from parents to children through their genes. Genes are inside each cell of the body. They contain the information that tells the body how to develop and work. Babies with microcephaly may also be born with Down syndrome or other birth defects.
Microcephaly may be caused during pregnancy if the mother:
Symptoms may be mild or sever and may include:
Microcephaly may be diagnosed before birth, or shortly after birth during a baby's first physical exam.
The diagnosis before birth may be based on:
The diagnosis after birth is usually based on measuring the size of the baby’s head. Other tests may include:
There is no treatment that will correct the size or shape of the baby’s head. Treatment depends on how severe your child’s symptoms are. Before you decide on your child's treatment, find out what your options are. Learn as much as you can and make your choice for your child's treatment based on your child's needs.
Babies with microcephaly may be able to get special services within the first year of life if they need them.
Children with severe symptoms may need to work with a speech therapist, occupational therapist, school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, or aide. A cognitive behavioral therapist can help your child learn to manage stress. Treatment will also include doing activities at home.