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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.



is when your baby's head size is smaller than expected. Microcephaly can be diagnosed before your baby is born or at birth. Severe microcephaly can happen if your baby's brain does not grow at all. Severe microcephaly can also be caused by a brain injury before or after birth. Microcephaly is usually linked to genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome.

Signs and symptoms:

Your baby may have any of the following mild to severe symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Problems with speech
  • Problems with movement and balance when he or she sits up, stands, or walks
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Not being able to learn or function with daily activities
  • Hearing loss and vision problems

Call your baby's doctor or specialist if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's development, condition, or care.

Treatment for microcephaly

may not be needed if it is mild. Other medical problems caused by microcephaly may need to be treated. Your baby may also need speech, physical, or occupational therapy. These therapies will help your child function at his or her highest level as he or she grows. Life-long treatment will be needed for babies with severe microcephaly. Severe microcephaly may be life-threatening.

Follow up with your baby's doctor or specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your baby's visit.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.