Microcephaly and Autism What To Look For

When we took Sarah to a neurologist a few years ago, he said “Did you no that Sarah has Microcephaly ?” I said “Excuse me, I have know  idea what that is.” He proceeded to tell us what Microcephaly (aka Small Brain Disease) was and that Sarah had a slight case of it.

I remember thinking to myself “What else is my child going to have to endure?” Well, I got the answer to that question not too much longer afterward.

I do not personally know any parents with a child with microcephaly, but I wish I did. Like with the word Autism, I had no idea what the word microcephaly was.

I had to research this new word and diagnosis and like the word Autism it scared me. The reason it scared me was because Autism mainly deals with your social, mental and cognitive abilities. Microcephaly basically deals with all of that and your life expectancy.

This new diagnosis really scared me, but I figured knowledge is power so I trudged on, trying to keep my head above water. I am so pleased that there is new information on Microcephaly out their that is less scary than what I went through.

No matter what always try to find out as much information about your child’s diagnosis as you can. Do not just try to pretend that the diagnosis will go away. Remember, the river of denial is far and wide!

Here are some of the causes of microcephaly that I have found;

Microcephaly usually is the result of abnormal brain development, which can occur in the womb (congenital) or in infancy. Microcephaly may be genetic. Other causes may include:

  • Craniosynostosis. The premature fusing of the joints (sutures) between the bony plates that form an infant’s skull keeps the brain from growing. Treating craniosynostosis (kray-nee-oh-sin-ahs-TOE-sis) usually means your infant needs surgery to separate the fused bones. If there are no underlying problems in the brain, this surgery allows the brain adequate space to grow and develop.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities. Down syndrome and other conditions may result in microcephaly.
  • Decreased oxygen to the fetal brain (cerebral anoxia). Certain complications of pregnancy or delivery can impair oxygen delivery to the fetal brain.
  • Infections of the fetus during pregnancy. These include toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, German measles (rubella), and chickenpox (varicella).
  • Exposure to drugs, alcohol or certain toxic chemicals in the womb. Any of these put your baby at risk of brain abnormalities.
  • Severe malnutrition. Not getting adequate nutrition during pregnancy can affect your baby’s development.
  • Uncontrolled phenylketonuria (fen-ul-kee-toe-NU-ree-uh), also known as PKU, in the mother. PKU is a birth defect that hampers the body’s ability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine.

In Sarah’s case, she did not have enough oxygen during labor and she had a careless doctor, but that is another story.

Depending on the severity of Microcephaly as with Autism, the degrees of symptoms are going to be different. Some children with Microcephaly will have normal intelligence and development. The latter was never told to me, but I am glad to find it now. Some other complications are

  • Developmental delays, such as in speech and movement
  • Difficulties with coordination and balance
  • Dwarfism or short stature
  • Facial distortions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures

So please, if you see any of these symptoms in your child, take them to be evaluated. Sarah’s head always seemed a little big to me. It did not occur to me to look at the back of her head which is much smaller.

I was also told that her facial distortions were because of the Tourette Syndrome, maybe so, but I do wonder. According to the Cleveland Clinic for Children, children with Microcephaly can have a reduced life expectancy. You know what, God is in control of how long we live, and I believe that Sarah is now living a good quality life.

MRIs of a normal individual (left) and a patie...

MRIs of a normal individual (left) and a patient with microcephaly caused by an ASPM mutation (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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3 thoughts on “Microcephaly and Autism What To Look For

  1. Pingback: Microcephaly and Autism What To Look For | Sarah's Voice

  2. hello , My nephew has micro cephaly & autism. He is 4.5 yo . We are confused who to see & what to address micro cephaly or autism.can anyone help.

  3. Hello, I am so glad that you commented on my post about microcephaly. I still do not no very much about this disease. Does your doctor have any advise for your nephew? His doctor should point his parents in the right direction on where he should be treated. I really hope that he gets the help he needs. My prayers are with you and your family. If their is anything I can do please let me know.

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