What is Microcephaly?

When babies are born with Microcephaly their head is smaller in size and their brain is often not completely developed. Since this is a disorder of the nervous system, it occurs when the brain fails to grow while the baby is inside the womb.

Additional issues that impact a child’s development and skills may also be present at birth. The cause of this disorder can be linked genetically or it can be acquired if an unborn baby is exposed to something harmful that caused an impairment with the brain. Acquired microcephaly can be caused by certain viral and parasitic infections, poisonous chemicals, drugs and alcohol abuse.

What are the Symptoms of Microcephaly?

In addition to a smaller sized head than what is customary for a newborn, there are various other symptoms that indicate a child has microcephaly. Many infants will not have a good appetite and this prevents them from growing and developing normally.

Some babies will have spontaneous contractions in their muscles. It is not uncommon for children who have been diagnosed with microcephaly to have severe learning disabilities, diminished motor skills, and problems with speech development. Other symptoms of this condition include hyperactivity, hearing and vision loss, failure to grow in height, seizures, and poor coordination and balance.

How is Microcephaly Treated?

There is not a medical cure for microcephaly but there are treatments that can help with the various symptoms of this disorder. Medications are often prescribed for children who regularly have seizures and for those who are hyperactive.

Physical therapy sessions can help children with coordination and muscle movement. Children who have speech difficulties can improve by taking speech therapy lessons. Additional types of treatment include occupational therapy, which provides help with performing daily activities and psychological counseling to help children and their families cope with the challenges of this disorder.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017