Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head is smaller than normal. This condition can cause developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy.
In 2016, the entire world was shocked by the spread of the Zika virus, especially among pregnant women. This viral infection can cause microcephaly when the baby is born.
Not just from the Zika virus, microcephaly in babies can also occur from drug use, alcohol use, and other infectious diseases.
So what is the condition of microcephaly in newborns and what impact does it have on their development? Let’s take a look at the next full review.
What is microcephaly?
Microcephaly or microcephaly is a condition where the size of the baby’s head is smaller than the average normal size for babies in general.
The cause can be congenital abnormalities during pregnancy (the brain does not develop) or only after birth until the first year of life.
Microcephaly in babies is relatively rare. The cases are from 2 to 12 babies out of a total of 10,000 births. The severity of microcephaly ranges from mild to severe.
Parents should know that the size of the head is related to the growth of the child’s brain, which will be monitored by the doctor during the development of the baby.
Symptoms of microcephaly in babies
The main sign or characteristic of microcephaly in babies is a smaller head size at the same age and gender. Also, here are other symptoms, such as:
- Loud cry
- You have trouble eating
- Hearing and vision problems
- Seizures occur
- Increased movement of the hands and feet (spasticity)
- Developmental delays
- Difficulty speaking, standing and walking
- Mentally disabled
Common problems in children’s growth and development include speech, communication, and learning disabilities. In addition, emotional and social disorders can also occur in the growth and development of children.
Babies start making sounds like “ah” and “oh” at 6 months of age and can speak short sentences from 2 years of age. However, the development of this ability to speak is delayed in children with microcephaly. In severe cases, the child will not be able to speak until adulthood.
Microcephaly typically causes impairments in motor skill development, such as delays in sitting and walking. Under normal circumstances, the child can sit at 9 months of age and walk alone at 18 months.
As the child grows, the face continues to grow, while the skull does not. This causes the child to have a large face, a smaller forehead, and a limp scalp.
However, there are also babies who experience microcephaly, who continue to develop normally.
Causes of Microcephaly in Babies
Citing the CDC, the root cause of microcephaly is generally unknown. This condition can also occur as a result of abnormal brain development from the womb or after birth.
Microcephaly can also be genetic. Here are other causes like:
- Craniosynostosis This is a condition where the fontanel closes prematurely before the brain is fully developed. Surgery is usually needed to correct it.
- Chromosomal abnormalities Down syndrome and other conditions can cause microcephaly.
- Decreased oxygen to the fetal brain (cerebral anoxia) Certain complications of pregnancy can make it difficult for the fetal brain to get oxygen.
- Infection during pregnancy For example, the fetus is exposed to toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, German measles, chickenpox, or Zika virus.
- Exposure to drugs, alcohol, or toxic chemicals during pregnancy puts the baby at risk for brain disorders.
- Severe malnutrition during pregnancy can affect the baby’s development.
- Uncontrolled phenylketonuria Accat is born and inhibits the body’s ability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine.
At this time, the CDC continues to investigate the causes of birth defects, or microcephaly, in infants. If you are pregnant, be sure to have regular prenatal checkups to minimize the occurrence of this condition in your baby.
Diagnosis of microcephaly
Sometimes microcephaly in babies can be diagnosed before birth with prenatal ultrasound. To find out, the mother has to do an ultrasound at the end of the second or third trimester.
After the baby is born, doctors can diagnose microcephaly by measuring the baby’s head circumference and then comparing it to the normal head circumference of a newborn.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam and take a complete prenatal history. Not only that, the doctor may also ask about your progress.
This is because microcephaly is often associated with intellectual disability. If the child’s development is delayed, the doctor will also need to do other tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, and blood tests.
The risk of developmental disorders in children with microcephaly
Can a baby’s brain develop properly with microcephaly? If the baby has this condition, her brain development is disrupted.
The state of immature brain development in microcephaly makes the patient prone to cerebral palsy and mental retardation. In addition, children with microcephaly are at increased risk for epilepsy, visual impairment, and hearing loss.
1. Cerebral Palsy or Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy or cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder in the brain that causes the patient to experience obstacles in controlling the muscles of their body.
Depending on the type and severity, people with microcephaly with cerebral palsy will experience impaired physical and cognitive development (children’s ability to think and understand new things).
2. Mental retardation
Below-average mental abilities or intelligence in children and a lack of ability to perform daily activities are signs of mental retardation in children.
The ability achieved by children in growth and development is consistent with the severity of mental retardation. This can be measured with an intelligence quotient test (IQ test). Children with an IQ below 70 are said to have mental retardation.
Can microcephaly be cured?
Microcephaly is incurable. There is no way to determine the size of a child’s head.
What is possible is to prevent deterioration and help children in their growth and development. Depending on the severity, there are different options to treat developmental disorders that occur.
If therapy is done early, the child’s growth and development may be better.
Treatment options that may be performed include speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Even if the child does not have a developmental disability at birth, a child with microcephaly should be monitored regularly to ensure that growth and development are not delayed.
How to prevent microcephaly?
Here are some things you can do to reduce the chances of your baby developing microcephaly:
- Don’t drink alcohol and don’t use drugs.
- Protect yourself from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Maintain personal hygiene by washing hands.
- Provide good care when you are sick.
- Make sure you have a healthy body so you don’t get infected.