Microcephaly

Microcephaly facts*

*Microcephaly facts medical author:

  • Microcephaly is a condition where the head (circumference) is smaller than normal.
  • Microcephaly may be caused by genetic abnormalities or by drugs, alcohol, certain viruses, and toxins that are exposed to the fetus during pregnancy and damage the developing brain tissue.
  • Signs and symptoms of microcephaly may include 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, and other brain-related or neurological problems; although some with the disorder may develop normal intelligence.
  • There is no treatment to change the head size; programs are available to help these individuals reach their maximum potential and genetic counseling may help explain the risk for microcephaly in future pregnancies.
  • Research on microcephaly is ongoing; for example, researchers found that amino acid therapy may reduce seizure activity in some patients.

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing. Microcephaly can be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2014

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