Microcephaly is a rare condition. When a baby is born with a head that is misshapen or smaller than the rest (sometimes with a bulging forehead), this indicates the presence of the condition. In most cases, this leads to physical and mental challenges and impairment. Microcephaly is very rare, and only one case in several thousand live births are reported both in the US and indeed throughout the world.
Microcephaly is most common when the zika virus is present. Zika is now recognized as a major cause of the WHO. The first links though were made as far back as 1947. Then, in 2007, when there was a major outbreak on the island of Yap and spike in microcephaly cases, scientists knew they had a strong case for ‘cause’ on their hands. This was true again in the 2015 outbreak in Brazil and culminated in official WHO debriefings in 2016.
1. Microcephaly Does Not Definitively Mean A Lack Of Normal Intelligence
Although microcephaly is associated with a lack of brain development and therefore normal head circumference, it does not affect every child in exactly the same way. It is simply not a given that a child born with this condition will not have normal intelligence, even though such a child may also fall on the other side of the spectrum and be severely impaired. Some children with microcephaly will grow up to have normal intelligence levels and a head that will grow bigger.
However, what usually happens is that they fall behind the accepted growth curves for head circumference. Those who are not the exception and don’t grow up have standard intelligence levels may show mild levels of disability or extreme disability. There may be learning difficulties, slow cognition, or other neurological disorders. In the most extreme cases, the mental impairment unfortunately also leads to or is coupled with physical disabilities. These are the patients that require lifelong intensive care.