What is microcephaly?

Also known as: small head size

When a newborn baby or an infant's head is found to be much smaller than normal for its age, the condition is known as microcephaly.


What causes microcephaly?

Causes of microcephaly include those conditions occurring before birth (congenital) like a variety of genetic mutations, maternal problems like alcohol or drug abuse, or exposure to noxious substances or ingestion of some prescription drugs during pregnancy. Environmental factors may also be involved; these may include infections of the baby’s brain during during pregnancy, such as the Zika virus, brain injury, lack of oxygen to the fetus, and other causes.


What are the signs/symptoms of microcephaly?

Common signs and symptoms vary widely. They may include; poor appetite, inadequate weight gain and growth, learning disabilities, speech delays, balance and movement problems, facial deformities, vision and hearing problems, seizures and other issues.


What are microcephaly care options?

While there is no cure for microcephaly, a variety of specialised supporting professionals including pediatric neurologists, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, plus psychological counseling may all be helpful.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

© 2019 Nicklaus Children's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.