What Is Microcephaly?
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is extremely smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain develops. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not formed properly during pregnancy or has ceased growing after birth, which has appeared in smaller head size. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, indicating that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in union with other major birth defects.
Severe microcephaly is a more severe, extreme form of this condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. Severe microcephaly can result because a baby’s brain has not formed properly during pregnancy, or the brain began to develop correctly and then was damaged at some duration during pregnancy.
How Does A Baby Get Microcephaly
Your doctor may not be ready to tell you why this occurred to your baby. In most cases, the definite cause is unknown. It can be caused by:
- A problem with your genes (Congenital Microcephaly)
- Something in your environment ( Acquired Microcephaly)
Congenital Microcephaly is carried down through families. It is caused by a defect in genes connected to early brain development. Microcephaly is usually seen in children with Down syndrome and genetic disorders.
Acquired Micryocephaly determines the child’s brain came into connection with something that harmed its growth and development. Some conditions that may do this while a baby is in the womb are:
- Viral infections like rubella, chickenpox, and possibly Zika which is spread by mosquitos.
- Parasite infections including such as toxoplasmosis or cytomegalovirus.
- A toxic chemical that involves lead.
- Not getting sufficient food or nutrients
Acquired microcephaly can also be caused by other things that involve:
- Hemorrhage in the newborn
- Injury to the brain following birth
- Spine or brain defects
The defining feature of microcephaly is decreased head circumference, the condition has other effects on health that can restrict the quality of life and reduce development. The impact of microcephaly on development can range from mild to severe and it might include:
- learning difficulties
- movement and balance issues
- high pitched cry
- issue with feeding
- reduced vision from lesions on the retina
- delayed development
- hearing loss
- distorted facial features and also the expressions
How Is It Diagnosed?
Occasionally, a doctor may identify the presence of microcephaly on a second or third-trimester ultrasound and diagnose the anomaly before the birth of the baby.
For a child to obtain a diagnosis of microcephaly after birth, they will experience an in-depth examination process.
The diagnostic method for microcephaly can include:
- A physical exam involves an evaluation of head circumference.
- Family history and evaluating the head size of the parents
- Charting head growth over time
Once a doctor diagnoses microcephaly, doctors could also apply CT or MRI scans and blood tests to assess the severity and cause of the microcephaly, as well as any extra associated conditions.
Some of these tests might also give the healthcare team information about the appearance of an infection in utero that may have caused structural brain changes.
How Is Microcephaly Treated?
There is no cure for microcephaly, but there are treatments to help with improvement, behavior, and seizures. If your child has mild microcephaly, they will need doctor checkups to observe how they develop.
Children who have further severe cases need permanent treatment to control symptoms. Unusual, like seizures, can be life-threatening. Your doctor will consider treatments to keep your child safe and promote their quality of life.
Your child may require:
- Medicine to manage seizure and hyperactivity and to improve nerve and muscle function.
- Speech therapy
- Physical and occupational therapy
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy helps kids who have complicated conditions and disabilities build skills they need to perform daily functions such as playing, dressing, or taking part in daily exercises.
Occupational therapists operate with children to build confidence and independence through:
- Muscle-strengthening activities
- Visual and motor skills development
- Changing activities or the environment to make it more obvious to complete a task.
- Providing equipment or technology.
During a therapy session, your child might see how to use adaptive devices or complete activities in new ways. With help from therapists, your child operates on :
- Daily living skills like dressing, feeding, and bathing.
- Small motor skills such as writing, using scissors.
- Thinking and learning skills such as sticking to a schedule, studying to play a new game, and regarding two-step directions.
Visual-motor and visual perceptual skills like using eye movement to explore and communicate with the environment.