What Is Microcephaly?
To mothers, their children are their treasures which needs protection, especially the newborns. Unfortunately, no matter how much a parent wants to do that, there are times when the baby will become vulnerable to diseases even at a very young age. One of these diseases is Microcephaly.
Microcephaly is present when the head of a baby is too small and thus not fully developed. It is rare, and it is a disorder within the nervous system. This can usually happen while the baby is still in the womb or for others, within the first few years of birth.
2 Vital Facts About Microcephaly: Congenital And Acquired
Knowing how your baby can contract this disease is challenging, so your doctor may not be able to give an exact reason. But here are some possible causes:
- Because of your genes (congenital microcephaly)
- Your baby contracted it because of the environment (acquired microcephaly)
Congenital Microcephaly is when a baby develops the disease because of genetic complications. It happens when flaws in the genes are linked to the brain development of the baby. Children with other genetic disorders like Down Syndrome are also observed to have microcephaly.
Acquired Microcephaly is what transpires when the disorder is acquired by getting into contact with harmful elements within the baby’s environment. This can happen because of the following:
- Viral infections like Zika, Rubella, and many more
- Infections due to parasites like Toxoplasmosis
- Exposure to toxic chemicals like Lead and Mercury
On the other hand, acquired microcephaly can happen because of the following:
- Hemorrhage or stroke in the baby
- Brain injury after birth
- Spine or brain defects
How Can A Doctor Know That A Baby Has Microcephaly?
Although the doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of this disorder, they can diagnose if your baby has it even before the baby is born.
Before the baby is born, the doctor can diagnose if the baby has microcephaly through ultrasound and see if the size of the baby’s head is smaller than expected. For mothers, it is highly recommended to have an ultrasound or a test at the end of the 2nd trimester. It is usually during the last three months of pregnancy.
For diagnosis after birth, it usually happens through physical measurements. Nurses or healthcare workers will measure the head of the baby. They typically measure the fullest part and take note of it in a chart to measure the baby’s growth. It can then be used to check how the baby’s head is growing as compared to how other baby’s heads of the same age and sex are growing. If the measurement of the baby’s head is lower than what is considered as average, your baby may be regarded as and diagnosed to have microcephaly.
The head measurement is done every time the child is taken for a checkup until they reach 2 or 3 years old. The doctor will most likely measure your child’s head every time you visit if they had been diagnosed with microcephaly.
What Are The Symptoms Of Microcephaly?
One of the most common and easily visible symptoms is having a small head but other than that; there are usually no other problems. Don’t worry though because the head will still grow as the child develops in age. The size will be considered smaller than average or regular, though.
Some kids will have normal intellect, but there will also be others who will have difficulty learning. You don’t have to worry about this because it won’t get any worse as they grow older. Usually, the challenge in learning happens to young children.
The child may also experience other symptoms like:
- Problems with balancing themselves and coordinating
- Developmental delays (delayed sitting, standing, walking and learning)
- Trouble swallowing and problems with feeding
- Hearing loss
- Short height
- Difficulties in speaking and pronunciation
- Vision problems
How Is Microcephaly Treated?
There is no cure for microcephaly. However, the problems with development and behavior caused by the disease can be treated.
It’s best to take your child with microcephaly to a specialist regularly for checkups. In this way, their growth and development can be monitored, and irregularities will be easy to spot with regular monitoring.
However, some children will experience severe cases of microcephaly. They would need constant treatment to keep extreme and dangerous symptoms in check. One of those symptoms is seizures. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments that can help improve your child’s condition.
The treatments can be:
- Medicines for the improvement of their nerve and muscle function for controlling seizures and hyperactivity
- Speech therapy
- Physical and occupational therapy
What Are the Long-Term Effects Of Microcephaly?
The long-term effects of microcephaly will still depend on what caused the disorder in the first place. If your child only has mild microcephaly, then, they may not have other serious problems. Despite their head being smaller than what is considered the normal size, they can still achieve the milestones of growth for their age.
On the other hand, some children experience serious issues or even medical problems like cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
Can It Be Prevented?
For pregnant mothers, take note of these tips to prevent acquired microcephaly:
- Have healthy meals and take prenatal vitamins.
- Don’t drink alcohol or do drugs.
- Avoid chemicals.
- Practice good hygiene like washing hands and go to the doctor immediately if you feel sick.
- Avoid touching litter boxes or feces as they can promote toxoplasmosis.
- Use insect repellent that is safe for pregnant women against mosquitoes.
If you have a child who has microcephaly and you want to get pregnant again, then, genetic counseling is imperative to trace the risk of the disease in your genes.
Where Can I Find Support?
Never forget that there are people around you always ready to provide support for you and your child. You can obtain this support from your friends and family. It is also possible to contact other parents or mothers who have been in your position before and who have children with microcephaly. You can reach Foundation for Children with Microcephaly – search for it online. This way, you can understand the disease better and try to live as normally as possible.DISCLAIMER (IMPORTANT): This information (including all text, images, audio, or other formats on FamilyHype.com) is not intended to be a substitute for informed professional advice, diagnosis, endorsement or treatment. You should not take any action or avoid taking action without consulting a qualified professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about medical conditions. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here a FamilyHype.com.