Microcephaly | Testing and Diagnosis

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How is microcephaly diagnosed?

Doctors typically diagnose microcephaly by:

  • taking a full medical and family history
  • performing a complete physical exam
  • measuring the size of the baby’s head as he or she grows, to compare with the average head size for age and gender
  • measuring the head size of the parents (sometimes smaller head sizes simply run in the family)

Can microcephaly be found during pregnancy?

If your child has the congenital form of microcephaly — arising before birth — it might be possible to detect the condition with a prenatal ultrasound during the third trimester of pregnancy. Microcephaly is usually not obvious until the third trimester.

What testing is done for microcephaly?

If your child has microcephaly that involves some degree of learning disability or other impairment, your clinician may suggest one of the following tests:

If a genetic cause of microcephaly is suspected, your clinician may also suggest genetic testing.

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