Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Microcephaly

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
Get the full details
Topic Resources

What is microcephaly?

"Micro-" means small, and "-cephaly" refers to the head, so microcephaly is a small head.

  • A baby with microcephaly usually has a small brain, and the brain may not have formed properly

  • Microcephaly is rare

  • Microcephaly can be caused by many problems that occur in the womb, including infections, lack of oxygen, lack of proper nutrition, and birth defects of the brain

  • Doctors may find that the baby has microcephaly before birth when they do a routine ultrasound of the fetus

  • There's no cure for microcephaly, but therapy may help babies maximize their abilities

What causes microcephaly?

What are the symptoms of microcephaly?

The baby has a noticeably small head. The other symptoms of microcephaly depend on how severely the brain is damaged or underdeveloped. Symptoms include:

  • Seizures

  • Developmental delays

  • Feeding problems

  • Hearing or vision problems

  • Problems with movement or balance

  • Hyperactivity

  • Intellectual disabilities

How can doctors tell if a baby has microcephaly?

How do doctors treat microcephaly?

There's no cure or standard treatment for microcephaly. Treatment may include:

  • Treating the symptoms from brain damage

  • Early intervention, which offers therapy to babies to improve their physical and mental abilities

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
OTHER TOPICS IN THIS CHAPTER
Birth Defects of the Brain and Spinal Cord
Others also read
Test your knowledge
Hashimoto Thyroiditis
Hashimoto thyroiditis results when the body attacks the cells of the thyroid gland. This is called an autoimmune reaction. Hashimoto thyroiditis is most common in which of the following populations?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP