Rare Disease - Microcephaly
What is it?
It's a rare condition that is noticed immediately after birth or even before that. The baby's head is smaller than a normal baby's at birth as the brain is unable to develop properly. It could also be that the brain stops growing at all while the baby's in the womb.
This occurs when genetic abnormalities interfere with the growth of the cerebral cortex during the early months of the fetal development. The cerebral cortex is the layer of brain often referred to as gray matter. Many also believe that this happens due to exposure to harmful substances or radiation while in the womb. Babies may also be born with microcephaly when the mother abuses drugs or alcohol or became infected with rubella or chicken pox virus.
They may be mentally retarded, can't control their facial bones leading to facial distortions and short stature. They may also be hyperactive, have seizures, be unable to coordinate and balance and other brain neurological abnormalities. Some will have normal intelligence and their head will grow bigger but the head circumference will be below the normal growth curve.
There is no treatment to return the head to a normal size or shape. The treatment focuses on ways to decrease the deformities and neurological disabilities. Medications are often used to help with seizures and hyperactivity. Genetic counselling may help families help better understand the risk of microcephaly.