Microcephaly is the condition in which there is lack of ample brain development thus causes the head to look small in size as compared to other persons of the same age and gender. Microcephaly, is a quite an unusual neurological condition and is considered as a type of birth defect. The condition can be proven to be true at birth because the infant brain developing process is affected during the pregnancy period, even after birth the brain has already deformed and cannot be properly corrected.
A variety of factors can contribute greatly to the condition, this factors can either be genetically caused or due to environmental factors. Infants with this condition are known to have issues with brain development. There is no known treatment for microcephaly, but the children can be offered certain types of help which are speech plus occupational supportive therapies. This kind of therapies can aid in the development process plus also greatly increases the life quality of the affected child.
The core sign of this condition is a child having a head of significantly smaller size than other children who are in the same sex and age group. One can measure the size of a child’s head using the skull circumference. A doctor can use the required growth charts which are standardized to know if a child presents such a condition.
The size of the children’s heads with microcephaly measure way below average than a normal child head. Some children may present more severe cases of the condition; wherein they are likely to present sloping backwards foreheads.
A doctor is likely to detect this defect during the birth of the baby or even during consistent checkups of the baby if they missed it during birth. Even if a person observes that the head of the child is not growing as it should be; hinting at some abnormalities, he or she should consult with a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Causes of Microcephaly
The conditions develop during pregnancy. As discussed above the conditions can either be genetically or environmentally prompted. Below the causes are explained properly
- Craniosynostosis, this is premature fusion of joints between bony plates that make up the skull of an infant. This greatly prevents the skull from developing completely. When one wants to correct this defect early enough, surgery is needed so as to separate the bones which have been fused. If apart from the fused joints, the brain of the baby is fine, surgery allows the brain to have adequate surface area to develop properly.
- Chromosomal abnormalities – Some genetic defects such as Down Syndrome affect greatly the brain development, triggering the occurrence of this condition in an infant.
- Cerebral Anoxia – This is the decreased availability of sufficient oxygen to a fetal brain, such complications can occur especially during pregnancy period or even during delivery process thus causing lack of enough oxygen to reach the brain of the baby.
- The infection of the foetus, this takes place during the pregnancy period. Such infections may include toxoplasmosis, rubella, chicken pox, and even cytomegalovirus.
- Exposure of the foetus to drugs, certain lethal chemicals and alcohol during pregnancy, any of the things mention can easily put the baby at risk of developing this brain abnormality thus a pregnant woman should take proper care of themselves during pregnancy so as to keep the infant baby foetus safe.
- Malnutrition – The inability of an infant to get enough nutrition during pregnancy period can very much severely affect the brain development of an infant because of this a woman should eat healthy types of food during pregnancy and take prescribed supplements by the doctor
- Phenylketonuria which is uncontrolled, thiscondition hinders the ability of the body to be able to completely breakdown the phenylalanine amino acid.
- Zika Virus – Zika is linked to increased cases of Microcephaly, especially since 2015. Countries in Latin America witnessed a steep rise in Zika in the year 2016, which led to governments asking pregnant women to avoid traveling to Zika affected countries. High risk countries also asked women to avoid getting pregnant till 2018.
Depending on the source plus level of vehemence of the unwanted condition, some of the complications that may occur this might include,
- Delays in development for example in speech and motion
- Retarded mental capacity
- Difficulties in coordination and footing
- Facial distortions
- Hyperactivity or inactivity
- Dwarfism or undersized bodies.
Microcephaly – Pictures
Microcephaly – Life Expectancy
The life expectancy rate for the individuals with such a condition is reduced; however, there is no official data or research to support this claim. While, there are some who die within the first year of their birth, there are others who live till 35 years of age or beyond. Microcephaly is a condition that makes it very difficult for a person to stay alone, a child or even an adult may need parents or guardians for constant support. If parents are too busy or if they are afraid they won’t stick around for more, they should leave the responsibility to caregiver. Also, it is important to set aside adequate money for their financial well-being and health-care.