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Rev Neurol. 2004 Sep 16-30;39(6):548-54.

[Ability of neonatal head circumference to predict long-term neurodevelopmental outcome].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Neonatología, Departamento de Pediatría, Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid, Spain.



We review the ability of head circumference (HC) at birth and head growth during the neonatal period to predict neurodevelopmental outcome, putting emphasis on new knowledge in this area.


During infancy HC correlates closely with intracranial volume and constitutes an accurate predictor of cerebral volume. Both an abnormal head size at birth and an abnormal head growth during the neonatal period, can express brain damage or the presence of entities that involve varied degrees of neurological dysfunction in childhood. In general, the influence of head size or growth abnormalities on neurodevelopment is more related to the underlying etiology and/or the presence of structural diseases of the brain than with the HC alteration itself. HC evaluation is of particular interest in sick neonates, specially very low birth weight infants, regardless of whether they are normal or small for gestational age, and both during admission an during the first months of life. In these patients, HC catch-up within the first months of life represents a favorable neurodevelopmental prognostic factor.


HC measuring and head growth evaluation constitute the most simple, inexpensive and quick available tools to assess the development of the central nervous system and identify neonates at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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