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The head circumference or cranial circumference is the head contour measurement in its largest part. It is measured using a tape measure, which should be placed over the ears and above the eyebrows. Thus, in addition to measurements of weight and height, the head circumference is another of the values to take into account when examining the health status of the newborn.
In subsequent pediatric check-ups, the measurement of the baby's head circumference will be another value to take into account when studying the baby's health status.
A newborn baby has a cranial outline of about about 35 cm. This contour, or perimeter, has the same measurement at birth as the thoracic contour, although the possibility that, in some cases, the cranial circumference is greater than the thoracic one should not be ruled out. This parallelism between both measures is maintained during the first year of age. So by the first birthday, the head circumference of a girl will have a value almost similar to the thoracic one (between 43 and 46 cm, for example).
In the case of men, at one year of age, this relationship begins to change slowly and it will be seen that the thoracic perimeter begins to be greater than the head, a physical aspect that is a characteristic of the male.
When passing through the birth canal, the head circumference can change due to the pressure produced during the passage on the bones of the baby's head. Due to this circumstance, the skull of babies is flexible and is made up of movable, non-welded bone plates that can be assembled together. The gaps or open spaces left by the moving structures of the bones of the head are called fontanelles.
The measurement of the head circumference is part of the routine carried out by the pediatrician at each visit of the baby to verify the healthy development of the child, both at birth and after, usually up to 3 years of age. Sometimes, after birth, the shape of the head can show that the bones have been mounted on each other or, it is possible, that there is some bruise.
To correctly treat these anomalies, there are tables that indicate the mean values and standard deviations. Taking note at each visit to the pediatrician of the value at each moment of growth, a succession of measurements is obtained that will form a curve, which is situated within the standard parameters, which depend on the sex and age of the baby. The continuous measurements on the tables, which express average values, serve as a guide for the pediatrician to detect possible problems related to the size of the baby's head.
Although extreme alterations in the size of the head of babies can be detected early during pregnancy thanks to ultrasound, when the baby has already been born we can speak of microcephaly or macrocephaly.
- Microcephaly: manifests when the baby's head is excessively small. It can be caused by a poor growth rate of the brain, due to genetic disease or malnutrition; to early fusion of the skull bones or poor brain development.
- Macrocephaly: it is an anomaly that, with the development of the baby, generally ends up disappearing. It is common for the baby to have higher head proportions at birth. But if the proportion of the head is excessively large, the cause may be simple macrocephaly (family inheritance) or hydrocephalus, which is caused by the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid. Other causes can be meningitis (inflammation of the brain, membranes and envelopes, as well as the spinal cord), a brain tumor or Canavan disease (inherited disease that causes the degeneration or rupture of nerve cells in the brain).
Although it may seem a joke, most babies are somewhat 'stubborn', because we are born with a head a little larger than the body. Therefore, the "stubborn" baby is not always a cause for concern. In fact, during the first year of life, head circumference growth is accelerated and then slows down. So when they get to your first birthday, 83.6 percent of children already have the head size they will have in adulthood.
You can read more articles similar to The baby's head circumference, in the category of on-site development stages.