Microcephaly is a neurological disorder where the head’s circumference is smaller than average for the size and age of an infant. It can either be present at birth or acquired later during first few years of a child’s life. It’s also associated with a mental retardation. However, almost one third of the cases have recorded levels of normal intelligence. Microcephaly is a rare disorder and affects 1 out of 7000 births.
In popular culture as well Microcephaly is determined through the circumference of the suffering patient’s head which is extremely smaller than the average. It is caused due to genetic factors but it is also true that excessive use of drugs, alcohol, various viruses and toxins affecting the fetus during pregnancy can also be responsible for this disorder to occur. Even though the smaller than average head is the main feature of this problem, there are various other symptoms that can be equally prominent such as Dwarfism, distinct and poor physical stature, delay and dysfunction of speech, cognitive and motor skills. Mental retardation, seizures, difficulties in coordination, hyperactivity and various other neurological/brain problems are equally associated with this disease.
- The skull’s growth affects the brain’s expansion and in Microcephaly the brain doesn’t grow at a normal rate. Reasons can be different such as exposure to harmful substances during fetal development or Chromosomal disorders. Viral infections during pregnancy among the mothers such as rubella (German measles), toxoplasmosis, or cytomegalovirus can also be the reason.
- Alcohol addiction during pregnancy or drug abuse can be as responsible as the genetic disorder.
- Maternal diabetes, malnutrition and abnormal maternal PKU.
- Mercury poisoning.
- Brain injuries or infections resulting from lack of oxygen.
- Poor physical health and hyperactivity
- High-pitched cry and Convulsions
- Spasticity of the arms and legs
- Delay in physical and mental developmental
- Mental disorders such as retardation
- The face keeps growing but the skull gets affected causing a disproportionate and large face.
- Wrinkled and loose scalp
- Receding forehead
Apart from surgical intervention there are hardly any concrete treatments for Microcephaly complications, especially the enlarged head of the affected child. However the treatment focuses at maintaining stability and preventing complications. Therapies for physical, speech, and livelihood training aim at enhancing the child’s abilities. Severe health complications such as seizures and hyperactivity can be treated with medicines.
As it is a life-long condition there is no particular treatment to ‘correct’ it but it’s important to work on maximizing the patient’s abilities and with a complete health care it is possible to enhance the child’s growth and independence. The parents of a child should be in regular touch with a specialist or a geneticist if they plan another child. Children with Microcephaly need proper examination and diagnosis as a part of their growth and development.
Microcephaly Life expectancy
The prognosis for Microcephaly is dependent upon various complications and existing medical circumstances as well as their solutions. The life expectancy for children with Microcephaly is low, and unfortunately the chance of having normal average brain function is also poor since its severity could carry along with it various problems that can hamper an individual’s normal life. The smaller head size feature does not have any treatment as of now which is actually the most prominent deformity in this condition. However with proper care and training the patient can live a quality and healthy life.
As a condition and distinct symptoms associated with it, Microcephaly has always been surrounded by questions on life expectancy and people have made various efforts to satisfy either their curiosity or their need to learn as much as they can about the life expectancy but because of the complications that are inherent in this disorder, the question is not that easy to answer without understanding the various aspects of Microcephaly.
Even after enormous research and health studies there is no relevant data to confirm the time one has in this disease. There are some patients who die in their first few years whereas others have lived for as long as 35 to 40 years. Many patients face a lot of difficulties in living on their own and often their parents, or care takers look after their financial and medical arrangements such as proper health care and execution of everyday tasks. There are also certain individuals who suffer from this problem but can live unexpectedly longer and normal life. But irrespective of such cases the complications make it difficult for the experts to confirm a specific age that can be seen as a benchmark for the best or worst case scenario. However, it is confirmed that without support in almost all major aspects of life such as physical, emotional and financial support it is not feasible for the patient to live independently.