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Microcephaly is a condition in which a person's head is significantly smaller than normal for their age and sex, based on standardized charts. Head size is measured as the distance around the top of the head.
Microcephaly most often occurs because the brain fails to grow at a normal rate. Skull growth is determined by brain growth. Brain growth takes place while in the womb and during infancy.
Conditions that affect brain growth can cause microcephaly. These include infections, genetic disorders, and severe malnutrition.
These conditions cause microcephaly:
These additional conditions may indirectly cause microcephaly:
Kinsman SL, Johnston MV. Congenital anomalies of the central nervous system. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 592.
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