MICROCEPHALY - WatsonsHealth

MICROCEPHALY

Microcephaly is a disorder of the nervous system that may cause the head to be smaller than normal and not fully developed. This condition may occur while the baby is in the mother’s womb or within the first few years of birth.

The exact cause of Microcephaly is oftenly not known. However, this may be because of genetic problem or environmental interruptions during pregnancy.

  • Congenital Microcephaly – The cause of Mocrocephaly is on the genes of either one of the parents and is usually passed down to their offsprings.
  • Acquired Microcephaly – This means the child’s brain may have been in contact with virus or substances that eventually harmed its growth and interfere in its development. It may include:
    • Viral Infections rubella (German measles), chickenpox, and possibly Zika, which is spread by mosquitos)
    • Parasite infections (Toxoplasmosis or Cytomegalovirus)
    • Toxic Chemicals such as Lead
    • Malnutrition
    • Alcohol
    • Drugs

Other causes may involve:

  • Hemorrhage or Stroke in the Newborn
  • Injury to the Brain after Birth
  • Spine or Brain Defects

The obvious symptom of the disease will be the size of the head.  Aside from this, the child may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Balance and Coordination Problems
  • Developmental Delays (Delayed Sitting, Standing, Walking)
  • Trouble Swallowing and Problems with Feeding
  • Hearing Loss
  • Hyperactivity (Trouble Paying Attention or Sitting Still)
  • Seizures
  • Short Height
  • Speech Problems
  • Vision Problems

DIAGNOSIS

Microcephaly may be diagnosed before or after birth. An ultrasound during pregnancy may help the doctor determine whether the baby’s head is smaller than the expected size.  The doctor likely will also examine the prenatal, birth and family history of the child. A physical exam usually involve measuring the circumference of your child’s head, compare it with a growth chart, and remeasure and plot the growth at future visits. Parents’ head sizes also may be measured to determine whether small heads run in the family.

In some cases, particularly if your child’s development is delayed, your doctor may request tests such as a head CT scan or MRI and blood tests to help determine the underlying cause of the delay.

 

TREATMENT

There is no cure for the problem in the size of the head. However, there are available treatments to help with the child’s development, behaviour and seizures as he or she grows. This may include:

  • Speech Therapy
  • Physical and/or Occupational Therapy
  • Medications to Control Hyperactivity and Seizures
  • Counselling

Some children with Microcephaly may have other medical problems, like cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Treatment may then depend on the extent of the disorder.

 

PREVENTION

Microcephaly caused by genetics cannot be prevented. However, there are ways that a pregnant mother can do to prevent acquired Microcephaly. They include:

  • Maintain a healthy diet and take prenatal vitamins.
  • Avoid intake of substances that may harm the baby such as alcohol or drugs.
  • Stay away from chemicals.
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Get treated for any illness as soon as you feel sick.

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