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Microcephaly Then and Now

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Corneil Smith

on 29 November 2014

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Transcript of Microcephaly Then and Now

not very humane
What we can take away from this
Then / Now
History of Microcephaly
Treatment focuses on ways to decrease the impact of the associated deformities and neurological disabilities. Children with microcephaly and developmental delays are usually evaluated by a pediatric neurologist Early childhood intervention programs that involve physical, speech, and occupational therapists help to maximize abilities and minimize dysfunction. Medications are often used to control seizures, hyperactivity, and neuromuscular symptoms.
By Corneil Smith
due: Sunday, November 30, 2014
Vol XCIII, No. 311
definition, symptoms, and diagnosis
What is Microcephaly?
Microcephaly: Then and Now
Microcephalics were sometimes sold to freak shows in North America and Europe in the 19th and early 20th century, where they were known by the name "pinheads". Many of them were presented as different species (e.g., "monkey man") and described as being the missing link. Famous examples are Zip the Pinhead (who inspired the cartoon "Zippy the Pinhead") and Schlitzie the Pinhead (who starred in the 1932 movie Freaks).
picture of zip the pinhead
Treatment of Microcephaly
There is no treatment to turn a microcephalic person's head size and shape back to normal. this being said, there wasn"t much to do to treat microcephaly in the past other than to provide comfort and stability to the afflicted person. However just as with most other mental disabilities in the past, treatments may not have been as intensely carried out as the treatment centers would have liked the public to believe.
Schlitzie the Pinhead starring in the 1932 movie "Freaks"
Schlitzie's family most likely sold his rights to circuses and movie producers
These producers and circuses would then present the male Schlitzie as female or androgynous to add on to the mystique of his strange appearance, taking advantage of her disorder. instances like these were not uncommon back in the 19th and early 20th centuries
While not every microcephalic person was treated badly, the way that society viewed them in general was inappropriate and just plain inhumane. being bought and sold like animals to anyone just to make some money shows how not only the barbaric nature of how mental illness was addressed in the past but also accentuates how far we have come in the past couple decades.
Microcephaly is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is an important neurologic sign but there isn't much uniformity in the definition of the disorder. It is usually diagnosed by head circumference rather than by observational deviations from the mean for age and gender. Severely impaired intellectual development is common, but disturbances in motor functions may not appear until later in life.
Infants with microcephaly are born with either a normal or reduced head size. Subsequently the head fails to grow while the face continues to develop at a normal rate, producing a child with a small head and a receding forehead, and a loose, often wrinkled scalp.

There is no real controversy with the treatment itself because there wasn't much that could have been done at the time. The real problems came when the care centers or asylums wouldn't give the treatments as prescribed
a zippy the pinhead cartoon making Microcephaly seem merely like stupidity
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