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Microcephaly

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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What is microcephaly?

"Micro-" means small, and "-cephaly" refers to the head, so microcephaly is a small head.

  • A baby with microcephaly usually has a small brain, and the brain may not have formed properly

  • Microcephaly is rare

  • Microcephaly can be caused by many problems that occur in the womb, including infections, lack of oxygen, lack of proper nutrition, and birth defects of the brain

  • Doctors may find that the baby has microcephaly before birth when they do a routine ultrasound of the fetus

  • There's no cure for microcephaly, but therapy may help babies maximize their abilities

What causes microcephaly?

What are the symptoms of microcephaly?

The baby has a noticeably small head. The other symptoms of microcephaly depend on how severely the brain is damaged or underdeveloped. Symptoms include:

  • Seizures

  • Developmental delays

  • Feeding problems

  • Hearing or vision problems

  • Problems with movement or balance

  • Hyperactivity

  • Intellectual disabilities

How can doctors tell if a baby has microcephaly?

How do doctors treat microcephaly?

There's no cure or standard treatment for microcephaly. Treatment may include:

  • Treating the symptoms from brain damage

  • Early intervention, which offers therapy to babies to improve their physical and mental abilities

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OTHER TOPICS IN THIS CHAPTER
Birth Defects of the Brain and Spinal Cord
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An important part of normal development is an infant’s growing attachment to its parents. As this bond strengthens, the infant may express fear or anxiety when the parents leave. This “separation anxiety” typically begins at around 8 months of age and resolves at around 24 months of age. Which of the following is the normal and expected infant behavior in reaction to a parent leaving the room during the time period of separation anxiety?
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