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Microcephaly refers to an abnormally small skull. Microcephaly is sometimes visible spontaneously: the size of the head is abnormally small compared to the rest of the body. But it can also be assessed by measuring the head's circumference. It is detected in childhood, hence the importance of early diagnosis, monitoring of weight height, and head circumference throughout growth and development. Microcephaly may be due to two main mechanisms: either it is secondary to an arrest in the development of the brain, or it occurs as a result of craniosynostosis, which is the premature welding of the skull. Several conditions of congenital origin can cause microcephaly: premature cessation of growth during pregnancy, insufficient blood supply during pregnancy, and certain chromosomal abnormalities.


Symptoms of microcephaly are:
  • a smaller skull size than normal, estimated by measuring head circumference;
  • a particular morphology in some cases, especially in the case of craniosynostosis, the skull is usually not distorted when it is the brain that stops its development;
  • a more or less severe mental retardation.


The diagnosis of microcephaly is relatively easy since it is based on an examination of the morphology of the skull and the head's circumference. This examination is performed using a tape which allows the measurement of the head circumference and comparison with normal curves. The diagnosis of microcephaly can also be done during pregnancy, via a prenatal ultrasound.


In general, microcephaly is often impossible to fix. In some cases, particularly in cases of craniosynostosis, surgery to open the skull slightly in some places is possible to allow the brain to grow more or less normally. Much of the treatment also involves managing the symptoms of microcephaly, mental retardation and other developmental disorders.


To avoid anomalies like microcephaly, it is important that follow your pregnancy is to not consume substances that are toxic to the developing fetus, such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs.