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Can a Child With Microcephaly Be Normal?

Microcephaly
Some children with microcephaly are both with normal intelligence and have normal developmental milestones, but their heads will always be smaller than normal children for their age and sex.

Microcephaly in children is a rare and genetic condition. Some children with microcephaly are both with normal intelligence and have normal developmental milestones, but their heads will always be smaller than normal children for their age and sex. Even in such cases, a regular follow-up with the doctor is advised.

However, other children, depending on the cause and severity of microcephaly, may have several complications such has poor intelligence, developmental delays, poor speech, language, convulsions, lack of coordination and balance, and possibly a shortened lifespan. 

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a relatively rare neurological condition that is usually present at birth or in the initial years. It usually occurs as a result of developmental abnormalities of the brain in the womb or poor development after birth. Microcephaly can be caused by various genetic or environmental factors, and the severity varies in each individual. Children born with microcephaly often have developmental problems. There's no cure for microcephaly, but early diagnosis, supportive treatment, and therapies can aid the child's development and improve their quality of life.

What are the signs and symptoms of microcephaly?

The diagnostic sign of microcephaly is a small head size that is significantly smaller than other children of the same age or sex. In severe microcephaly, the child may have backward-sloping of the forehead.

Other signs and symptoms that may be present are as follows:

  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Learning difficulties 
  • Mental retardation 
  • Poor speech and language development 
  • Difficulty in movement and coordination 
  • Balance problems 
  • Hearing loss
  • Decreased vision 
  • Difficulty feeding 
  • Seizures 
  • Spasticity of the arms and legs (stiffening and tightening of the muscles, affecting normal movement)
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Small stature or dwarfism 
  • Micrognathia (small chin)
  • Thin upper lip 
  • Flat midface and short nose

What causes microcephaly?

Microcephaly usually occurs as a result of abnormal brain development in the uterus/womb (congenital) or during infancy. The causes include:

SLIDESHOW

Conception: The Amazing Journey from Egg to Embryo See Slideshow

How is microcephaly treated?

There is no cure for microcephaly, and the complications can’t be reversed. Surgery is available only for craniosynostosis. Treatment of a child with microcephaly involves a team of doctors, teachers, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. Treatment includes management of the child’s condition with speech therapy and physical and occupational therapy to strengthen their abilities and improve their quality of life. Medication may be prescribed to treat certain complications of microcephaly such as seizures and hyperactivity. Hearing problems may be managed with devices to aid hearing such as hearing aids. Vision problems can be managed with prescription eyeglasses.

Surgery for craniosynostosis: Surgery for craniosynostosis involves the separation of the fused skull bones. If there are no other problems in the brain, following surgery, there is adequate space created, allowing the brain to grow and develop normally.

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Reviewed on 10/9/2020
References
References:

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2500048-overview

https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/3603/microcephaly
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