06 Jun The Importance of Measuring Children’s Head Circumference, Up to 3 Years Old, Mums!
Newborns born either by normal delivery or by cesarean section, whether full term or premature babies, will undergo routine examinations in the form of body weight and length measurements. In addition to these 2 things, the measurement that is no less important and must be done is the measurement of the baby’s head circumference.
Why is that? Because the baby’s head circumference is an indication of the baby’s growth and development, as well as a marker of the presence or absence of physical abnormalities or congenital diseases suffered by the baby.
When is Head Measurement Taken?
This head circumference measurement is carried out routinely until the age of 3 years, at which age the head has grown to its maximum and is considered not to change in size again.
Head circumference measurement is an easy examination, does not require complicated tools, does not require special abnormalities, and can even be performed by nurses/midwives or even the child’s own parents.
However, interpretation or how to read the results of these measurements requires the expertise of doctors, general practitioners or pediatricians, to then be adjusted to the child’s growth chart according to WHO.
Later the results of these measurements can be a guide for doctors in treating and dealing with the abnormalities obtained. In general, the size of a normal baby’s head circumference is 32 to 38 cm.
Detecting Microcephaly and Macrocephaly
Broadly speaking, the abnormality of the circumference of the baby’s head is divided into 2, namely microcephaly and macrosephaly.
The baby’s head is said to be microcephaly if the size of the baby’s head circumference is less than 2 standard deviations below the average compared to infants of the same age and sex. In other words, the microcephaly baby’s head is smaller which indicates that the baby’s brain size is also smaller than the baby’s age.
As many as 2.5% of infants can be classified as having microcephaly and some of them do not have disorders of the nervous system. A history of small head size in the family as well as normal brain development can be found in asymptomatic familial microcephaly .
Severe microcephaly can be a serious case and is caused by the baby’s brain not developing during pregnancy, or the brain developing properly but then developing under certain conditions throughout pregnancy. Microcephaly can cause several problems later in life such as:
- Developmental disorders, such as speech delays, and other developmental delays (such as sitting, standing, and walking)
- Intellectual disability
- Problems with movement and balance
- Eating problems, such as difficulty swallowing
- Hearing disorders
- Visual impairment
Severe microcephaly can also have an impact on life -threatening conditions, both when the baby is newborn and after developing it in several years of life.
Some Factors Causing Microcephaly
The cause of microcephaly in general has not been known with certainty. Some babies with microcephaly are due to changes in genes. Some other causes of microcephaly that can be triggered during pregnancy, include:
- Certain infections during pregnancy, such as rubella, toxoplasmosis, or cytomegalovirus
- Severe malnutrition, which means lack of nutrition
- Exposure to hazardous substances, such as alcohol, certain drugs, or toxic substances
- Disorders of blood supply to the baby’s brain during its development
Microcephaly is a lifelong condition, for which no treatment has been found to cure the microcephaly. Mild microcephaly often does not require special treatment, just monitor the child’s growth and development regularly.
However, for severe microcephaly, the baby will need treatment and care that focuses on the health problems caused by the microcephaly (as mentioned above). These treatments include talk therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sometimes medications are needed to treat seizures or other symptoms.
Besides microcephaly, the most common head circumference abnormality is macrocephaly. As opposed to microcephaly, macrocephaly is a condition where the baby’s head circumference is abnormally large, in which the baby’s head is larger than other children his or her age.
Macrocephaly is caused by a variety of causes, ranging from mild medical conditions to severe medical conditions that require immediate treatment. These medical conditions include hydrocephalus, brain tumors, bone disorders, or it can be inherited normal variants.
In macrocephaly, it is necessary to further examine whether there are symptoms of vomiting, decreased consciousness, anxiety, and neurological and developmental disorders in the patient or family. Hydrocephalus is the most serious macrocephaly disorder, in which there is an accumulation of excess fluid in the brain. Children with hydrocephalus will experience developmental delays.
Similar to microcephaly, hydrocephalus can also be caused by an infectious process both in the womb and after the baby is born. In addition, bleeding in the brain that occurs after the baby is born is often found as a cause of hydrocephalus.
Treatment for macrocephaly must also be adjusted to the cause of the disorder, and how severe the symptoms are caused by this disorder. In severe cases, where the baby gets into a state of impaired consciousness, surgery may be needed immediately to save the baby’s life.
In mild and asymptomatic macrocephaly conditions, close monitoring and more complete investigations can be performed to rule out underlying abnormalities.
In conclusion, measurement of head circumference is an important examination and needs to be done immediately when the baby is born and is also one of the important components that need to be carried out regularly until the child enters the age of toddlers or toddlers. The importance of assessing the development and growth of the child’s brain and head needs to be a concern for parents in the future, so that appropriate treatment can be immediately carried out according to the condition of the abnormality found.
SOBRI MAULANA, Muhammad. HUBUNGAN PENGASUHAN DI TEMPAT PENITIPAN TERHADAP PERKEMBANGAN PSIKOMOTOR, SOSIAL DAN BAHASA PADA ANAK USIA 1-5 TAHUN DI TPA AL IRSYAD TERNATE 2020. JECIES: Journal of Early Childhood Islamic Education Study, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, p. 79-88, oct. 2020. ISSN 2721-6004. Available at: <https://www.e-journal.stit-islamic-village.ac.id/jecies/article/view/86>. Date accessed: 06 june 2021. doi:https://doi.org/10.33853/jecies.v1i2.86.