Microcephaly is a birth defect that refers to a child that is born with a small head. Microcephaly can be inherited from a defective gene or developed due to other causes.
During pregnancy, a fetus that is exposed to certain chemicals, radiation, infections, alcohol or medications is at an increased risk of abnormal head and brain development, which will cause microcephaly. If the pregnant mother does not consume enough vitamins and nutrients to sustain a healthy pregnancy or has diabetes, there is an increased chance as well.
The symptoms of microcephaly include a very small head, seizures, mental retardation and developmental delays. Other children may have a hard time feeding. Microcephaly can be diagnosed during a prenatal ultrasound, which is best seen during the third trimester. If the diagnosis was not made prenatally, a doctor can diagnose microcephaly after the baby has been born based on the child's head circumference.
Once a confirmation has been made, additional tests may be necessary to make sure there are no other abnormalities. There is no cure or treatment for microcephaly.