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Microcephaly is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is an important neurologic sign but there is nonuniformity in the definition of microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which the infant’s head is smaller than “normal” for the infant’s age and gender, because of delayed or arrested brain growth. There is no universally agreed definition. It is usually defined as a head circumference (HC) more than 2 standard deviations below the mean for age and gender. Some academics advocate defining it as head circumference more than 3 standard deviations below the mean for the age and sex. Microcephaly may be congenital or it may develop in the first few years of life.

It is often first diagnosed by ultrasound examination during pregnancy.

Microcephaly is often associated with other developmental abnormalities and with varying degrees of intellectual and developmental delay, seizures, and visual and hearing loss. In severe cases it can be life-threatening.

Causes: There are many recognised causes of microcephaly including a number of infections in pregnant women. These include rubella, cytomegalovirus (a common virus that causes asymptomatic infection or a mild glandular fever-like illness in otherwise healthy people and severe disease in people with severe immune suppression such as AIDS), herpes simplex virus infections, syphilis and toxoplasmosis (a parasitic disease).

Chikungunya, a virus spread by the same mosquito responsible for spreading Zika (the Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito), has also been shown to cause brain damage in infants of women infected during pregnancy in a naïve population (one without previous exposure to the virus).

Noninfective causes of microcephaly include a variety of genetic disorders, maternal exposure to drugs, alcohol, chemical toxins and radiation and severe malnutrition.
Relevant Occupations
Clinical Geneticist
Paediatric Geneticist