Importance of measuring head size

Pediatrician Wendy Mitchell, MD Neurology, shares advice for parents on why it is important to have your child's head size measured and what an abnormal head size can indicate
Why It Is Important To Measure Your Child's Head Size
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Importance of measuring head size

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Measuring a child's head gives a pediatrician a lot of information about the health of that child's brain. In infancy, a brain that's growing too slow is going to be reflected as a head that's growing too slow. What makes your head grow is your brain growth. A brain that's growing too slow could be a brain that was injured in the uterus, that has an anomaly, where the child has a metabolic problem or whether there's been a brain injury of some sort. A brain that's growing too fast is less often a problem if the child has no other symptoms. So my first question, when I see somebody with a head with a head that's too big is measure mom and dad. Because by far, the most common cause of what we call megalencephaly or large brain is familial. Mom or dad have a big head. There's head growth charts for adults too or for big kids. I can look at them and say, "Mom and dad has a head over the 95th percentile" I'm thus not worried about the child whose head is at the 95th percentile. The other side of it though is if the head is starting out normal and going off the curve on the bottom end, we're very worried about that child.

Pediatrician Wendy Mitchell, MD Neurology, shares advice for parents on why it is important to have your child's head size measured and what an abnormal head size can indicate

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Wendy Mitchell, MD

Pediatrician, Neurology, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Wendy Mitchell, MD, is Professor of Clinical Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. She is acting Division Head of Neurology at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where she has practiced for over 30 years. She is a native of Los Angeles. Her current research interests include cognitive and behavioral aspects of childhood epilepsy, clinical research in anticonvulsants, and a rare immune-mediated syndrome, opsoclonus-myoclonus (or dancing eyes syndrome). In her free time she enjoys scuba diving and yoga.

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