The primary sign of microcephaly is:
- A head size significantly smaller than that of other children of the same age and sex
Head size is measured as the distance around the top of the child's head (circumference). Using standardized growth charts, the measurement is compared with other children's measurements in percentiles. Some children just have small heads, which may measure in the third, second or even first percentiles. In children with microcephaly, head size measures significantly below average, possibly even below the first percentile for your baby's age and sex.
A child with more severe microcephaly may also have a backward sloping forehead.
When to see a doctor
Chances are your doctor will detect microcephaly at the baby's birth or at a regular well-baby checkup. However, if you think your baby's head is smaller than normal or isn't growing as it should, talk to your doctor.
May. 30, 2012
- Hay WW,.et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6585048. Accessed April 8, 2012.
- NINDS microcephaly information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/microcephaly/microcephaly.htm. Accessed April 8, 2012.
- Boom JA. Etiology and evaluation of microcephaly in infants. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 8, 2012.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 10, 2012.