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New Microcephaly Evaluation Guidelines Issued

Last Updated: September 15, 2009.

Because microcephaly is associated with developmental delays, learning disorders and neurologic conditions, children with microcephaly should be screened for such problems, according to a special article published in the Sept. 15 issue of Neurology.

TUESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Because microcephaly is associated with developmental delays, learning disorders and neurologic conditions, children with microcephaly should be screened for such problems, according to a special article published in the Sept. 15 issue of Neurology.

Stephen Ashwal, M.D., of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues from the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Practice Committee of the Child Neurology Society performed a literature review and developed recommendations based on a four-tiered scheme of evidence classification.

In reviewing the literature, the researchers found a high prevalence of imaging abnormalities and severe developmental impairments, (about 40 percent in milder cases and 80 percent in severe cases), genetic etiologies (15 to 53.3 percent), and coexistent conditions such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and eye disorders (about 40, 20, 50, and 20 to 50 percent, respectively).

"Neuroimaging may be considered useful in identifying structural causes in the evaluation of the child with microcephaly (Level C)," the authors conclude. "Targeted and specific genetic testing may be considered in the evaluation of the child with microcephaly who has clinical or imaging abnormalities that suggest a specific diagnosis or who shows no evidence of an acquired or environmental etiology (Level C). Screening for coexistent conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and sensory deficits may also be considered (Level C). Further study is needed regarding the yield of diagnostic testing in children with microcephaly."

One author of the study reported serving on the advisory board of a professional organization. Several authors reported serving on editorial or advisory boards of medical journals. One author also reported serving as a paid consultant in a legal proceeding; and another reported receiving royalties for medical software.

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