Congenital Defects - Defects of the skull, face, and jaw

Various malformations of the skull, face, and jaw can appear at birth or soon after. They include macrocephaly (enlarged head) and microcephaly (very small head). Microcephaly is caused by the premature fusion of the cranial sutures in early childhood. If brain growth increases very rapidly during the first six months of life in infants whose skulls have fused prematurely, the brain cannot expand sufficiently within the rigid skull, and mental retardation results. Surgery is used to widen the sutures to permit normal brain development.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are common facial deformities and are visible at birth. These are longitudinal openings in the upper lip and palate. They result from failure of the area to unite in the normal manner during embryonic stages of pregnancy. They should be corrected at an early age. If surgery is performed in infancy there is a good chance that the child will mature with little or no physical evidence of the affliction and with no psychological damage as a result of it. See “Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip” in Ch. 2, The First Dozen Years , for further information.

The Human Skeleton

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