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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Microcephaly


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Overview

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

References

  1. Microcephaly. MedlinePlus. December 2013; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003272.htm.
  2. Microcephaly. Mayo Clinic. January 2016; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/microcephaly/basics/definition/con-20034823.
  3. Facts about Microcephaly. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 2016; http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html.
  4. NINDS Microcephaly Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). June 2015; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/microcephaly/microcephaly.htm.
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Basic Information

  • Boston Children's Hospital provides an information page on Microcephaly. Click on the link above to access this information.
  • You can obtain general information on this topic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control measures to improve the health of the people of the United States. The !LINK! has updated information and videos on the Zika virus.
  • Mayo Clinic has an information page on Microcephaly.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Microcephaly. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.