Guideline Finds Kids with Microcephaly Risk Neurologic Problems, Need Screening

March 18, 2011

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A guideline from the AAN finds children with microcephaly are at risk of neurologic and cognitive problems and should be screened for these problems. The guideline, developed in full collaboration with the Child Neurology Society, was published in the September 15, 2009, issue of Neurology®.

Microcephaly is having a head circumference that is smaller than the head size of 97 percent of children of the same age. Microcephaly is common, affecting more than 25,000 infants in the US each year. If it is not present at birth, it usually has developed by the time a child is two years old. While microcephaly is not a disease, it is an important sign that may point to other conditions. There is strong evidence that children with microcephaly are at risk for developmental delay and learning disorders.

The guideline suggests brain scans such as an MRI or CT scans as well as genetic testing may be useful in identifying the causes of microcephaly. Doctors also may consider screening for coexisting conditions, such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy.