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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Microcephaly


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Your Question

Are there any treatments for low-grade microcephaly?

Our Answer

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What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which a person's head is significantly smaller than expected based on standardized charts. Some cases of microcephaly are detected at birth, while others develop in the first few years of life.[1][2] Some children with microcephaly have normal intelligence and development. However, microcephaly can be associated with seizures; developmental delay; intellectual disability; problems with movement and balance; feeding difficulties; hearing loss; and/or vision problems depending on the severity of the condition.[3] Because the growth of the skull is determined by brain growth, the condition often occurs when the brain fails to grow at a normal rate. This may be caused by a variety of genetic abnormalities; exposure to certain viruses (i.e. rubella, toxoplasmosis, and cytomegalovirus), drugs, alcohol, or toxic chemicals during pregnancy; untreated maternal PKU during pregnancy; and/or severe malnutrition during pregnancy.[2][3] Although there is no treatment for microcephaly, early intervention may help enhance development and improve quality of life.[4]
Last updated: 2/1/2016

Are there any treatments for low-grade microcephaly?

There is no treatment that can return a child's head to a normal size or shape or reverse the complications of microcephaly. Treatment focuses on ways to decrease the impact of the associated birth defects and neurological disabilities. Children with microcephaly and developmental delays are usually evaluated by a pediatric neurologist and followed by a medical management team. Early childhood intervention programs that involve physical, speech, and occupational therapists help to maximize abilities and minimize dysfunction. Medications are often used to control seizures, hyperactivity, and neuromuscular symptoms.[2][4] Genetic counseling may help families understand the risk for microcephaly in subsequent pregnancies.[4]
Last updated: 2/1/2016

References
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.