Author(s): Harris SR
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To provide an evidence-based update emphasizing the importance of measuring head circumference (HC) in infants, with a focus on microcephaly. QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: PubMed and EMBASE (OvidSP) were searched. Search terms used were head circumference and infants and measurement; microcephaly and infants and measurement; idiopathic microcephaly and infants; and congenital microcephaly and infants. Most of the references for this review were published in 2000 or later. Most evidence is level II. MAIN MESSAGE: Serial measurement of HC should be incorporated into routine well-child care. Measure the distance around the back of the child's head with a nonelastic tape measure held above the eyebrows and ears, and plot the measurement on an age- and sex-appropriate growth chart. Microcephaly is HC more than 2 SD below the mean. The most common disability associated with microcephaly is intellectual delay; other common concomitant conditions include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, language delay, strabismus, ophthalmologic disorders, and cardiac, renal, urinary tract, and skeletal anomalies. An interdisciplinary approach to microcephaly is warranted. Although there are no specific interventions to enhance brain growth, dietary or surgical interventions might be helpful in some cases. Infants with microcephaly who show developmental delays might benefit from early intervention programs or developmental physical and occupational therapy. CONCLUSION: Early identification of HC concerns by family physicians can be a critical first step in identifying disorders such as microcephaly, leading to referral to pediatric specialists and, as needed, provision of family-centred early intervention services.
This article was published in Can Fam Physician
and referenced in Journal of Neonatal Biology