What is Microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a condition that results in a baby’s head being much smaller than what is typically expected.  Generally, microcephaly occurs because the brain of the baby does not develop properly during pregnancy or does not grow after birth, which results in a smaller head size.  Severe microcephaly is a more extreme form of microcephaly that results either from underdevelopment of the baby’s brain during pregnancy or from damage during pregnancy to an otherwise normally developing brain.

What causes Microcephaly?

The exact cause of microcephaly is typically unknown, but it can be caused by a variety of reasons.  Microcephaly can be caused by a genetic factor; however, it is an isolated condition that can be present with or without other birth defects. Additionally, Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to microcephaly and other serious, and sometimes fatal, birth defects.  Pregnant women should avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus is prevalent.

Severe microcephaly can also be caused a variety of different reasons, such as infections during pregnancy, including rubella, toxoplasmosis, or cytomegalovirus.  It can also be caused by severe malnutrition or exposure to harmful substances, including alcohol, drugs or toxic chemicals during pregnancy.  Interruption of the blood supply during pregnancy can also cause severe microcephaly.

What are the symptoms of Microcephaly?

As previously mentioned, the main symptom of microcephaly is a baby having a smaller head than what is typically expected.  Microcephaly can be linked to complications, ranging from mild to severe, due to the smaller head size.  Some complications include seizures, developmental delays, movement and balance issues, feeding difficulties, hearing loss and vision problems.  Severe microcephaly generally results in more of these complications because of the extreme shrunken head size.  In some cases, the complications can be life threatening.

How is Microcephaly diagnosed and treated?

Microcephaly can either be diagnosed during pregnancy or after the baby is born.  During pregnancy, microcephaly can be diagnosed during the second or third trimester from an ultrasound examination.  After the baby is born, microcephaly can be diagnosed by measuring the baby’s head circumference, and then by comparing the circumference to the standards for the baby’s sex and age.  If the measurement is below the cutoff value, the baby has microcephaly.

Microcephaly cannot be cured because it is a lifelong condition.  Depending on the severity of the microcephaly, the condition may not require treatment for any of the possible complications.  Generally, early intervention developmental services can help improve physical or developmental delays that may affect speech, movement or balance issues.

How can RSVP Home Care treat microcephaly?

RSVP Home Care can help treat the complications associated with microcephaly by providing Northern Kentucky with durable medical equipment and respiratory therapists.  RSVP Home Care can offer ventilators and oxygen equipment and assistance from respiratory therapists for treatment of breathing complications caused by microcephaly.  Additionally, RSVP Home Care has a full line of enteral products, including nutrients and feeding kits, to treat feeding difficulties from microcephaly.  To see how Northern Kentucky’s durable medical equipment, RSVP Home Care can assist with treating the complications associated with microcephaly, contact us today!  Our team of qualified respiratory therapists will work closely with your medical team and provide the right durable medical equipment to treat microcephaly complications in Northern Kentucky and the surrounding areas.