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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about microcephaly?

When your baby's head is smaller than expected, it is called microcephaly. As your baby develops, his or her head grows as the brain grows. Microcephaly can be diagnosed before or after your baby is born. Severe microcephaly can happen if your baby's brain does not grow at all. It can also happen if your baby's brain starts to grow and an injury happens before or after birth. Severe microcephaly is life-threatening.

What causes microcephaly?

The cause of microcephaly may not be known. Microcephaly is often associated with Down syndrome, chromosomal syndromes, and neurometabolic syndromes.

What signs and symptoms may happen with microcephaly?

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

How is microcephaly diagnosed?

How is microcephaly treated?

Your baby may not need any treatment with mild microcephaly. 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.

When should I call my baby's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. 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.

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Further information

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