Microcephaly (patient information)

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What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?


When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Microcephaly?


What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

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Directions to Hospitals Treating Microcephaly

Risk calculators and risk factors for Microcephaly

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Assistant-Editor-In-Chief: Kalsang Dolma, M.B.B.S.[2]


Microcephaly is a condition in which a person's head is significantly smaller than normal for their age and sex, based on standardized charts. Head size is measured as the distance around the top of the head.

What causes Microcephaly?

Microcephaly most often occurs because the brain fails to grow at a normal rate. Skull growth is determined by brain growth. Brain growth takes place while in the womb and during infancy.

Conditions that affect brain growth can cause microcephaly. These include infections, genetic disorders, and severe malnutrition.


Microcephaly is usually discovered by the health care provider during routine examination. Head measurements are part of all well-baby examinations up to 18 months (longer in certain circumstances). They are painless and take only a few seconds while the measuring tape is placed around the infant's head.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Microcephaly is often diagnosed at birth or during routine well-baby examinations when the infant's height, weight, and head circumference is measured. If you suspect your infant's head size is too small or not growing normally, consult your health care provider

Where to find medical care for Microcephaly?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Microcephaly


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