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Microcephaly

Understanding Impairments to a Child's Brain Development - Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer

When a child experiences brain injuries during birth, this can result in conditions that affect their health and well-being throughout their life. Damage to the brain can result in a variety of developmental problems, and microcephaly is one issue that parents should be aware of.

What Is Microcephaly?

Micro means small, and cephaly refers to the head. If a child's head measures abnormally small in the first two years of a child's life, this can be an indication that a brain injury has occurred. Microcephaly may take one of two forms:

  • Congenital microcephaly occurs because of genetic mutations or genetic abnormalities passed to a child from their mother or father. If either parent or members of their families have a history of microcephaly or related conditions, doctors should address these issues and ensure that the proper steps are taken to prevent brain damage throughout the pregnancy and during and after the child's birth. 
  • Acquired microcephaly occurs when a child suffers a brain injury before, during, or after birth. A lack of oxygen during birth may occur because of asphyxia, and this can lead to issues such as fetal stroke or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). A child's brain may also be damaged by an infection, or it may suffer trauma because of complications during birth, including cases involving a skull fracture.

A normally developing brain causes the skull to grow as the brain grows and expands inside the infant's skull. An infant brain injury may cause the death of brain tissue, and future growth of brain cells may be inhibited. This may result in a smaller brain, and thus, a smaller head size. While microcephaly may be diagnosed immediately after birth by measuring the circumference of a child's head, children who suffer brain injuries are often born with a normal head size. In these cases, microcephaly may become evident in the subsequent months or years when doctors observe that the child's head is not developing at the normal rate. Typically, a child with microcephaly will have a head size that is lower than the third percentile for children of the same age and sex. 

Addressing the Effects of Microcephaly

As with many other brain injuries, microcephaly is a permanent and irreversible condition. Children who have microcephaly may also experience other issues, including intellectual disabilities, loss of vision or hearing, and developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy. They may also suffer from seizures, and they will likely require life-long medical care. Children with microcephaly also experience a lower life expectancy.

The costs related to the care and treatment of a child with microcephaly can be very high. In addition to receiving immediate medical care, including any surgeries which may be needed to reduce the possibility of future brain damage, a child may need ongoing physical, occupational, and speech therapy. If a child has a disability or experiences mobility issues, they may require assistive devices, and a family's home may need to be modified to accommodate their needs. A child may also need special education and other forms of care throughout their lifetime.

If your child has experienced a brain injury which led to microcephaly or any other conditions that will affect their health and well-being, you will want to ensure that you have the financial resources necessary to meet their needs. At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we can help evaluate your case and determine your best options for receiving financial assistance. To arrange a free consultation, contact us today by calling 312-945-1300.

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