Charlie Gard Controversy: Why A Child's Head Measurement Issues

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In a court docket listening to on Thursday (July 13), the dad and mom of Charlie Gard, the critically unwell child in Britain, have been at odds with their son’s hospital over a seemly simple reality: The dimensions of their child’s head. By why is head measurement such an essential metric for infants’ well being, and the way troublesome is it to measure?

Charlie’s dad and mom, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are engaged in a authorized battle over remedy for his or her son, who was born with a uncommon genetic situation that normally leads to loss of life within the first few months of life. The 11-month-old can not breathe on his personal, has seizures and is blind and deaf. His dad and mom wish to take Charlie to america for an experimental remedy, however his medical doctors have disagreed, saying that the remedy wouldn’t assist and would solely prolong Charlie’s struggling.


Now, the Excessive Courtroom in London, which beforehand dominated in favor of the hospital, is deciding whether or not to reopen the case on the grounds of latest proof.

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One level within the dispute is Charlie’s head measurement. Medical doctors at Nice Ormond Avenue Hospital in London, the hospital treating Charlie, have stated that his head circumference hasn’t modified in three months, indicating an absence of development that may be an essential consideration for the case, based on the BBC . However Charlie’s dad and mom disagree. Yates says she has measured her son’s head commonly, and that there’s a 2-centimeter distinction between her measurements and the hospital’s measurements, the BBC reported. The decide referred to as this dispute “absurd,” and requested for the child’s head to be measured independently within the subsequent 24 hours. 

On the whole, medical doctors commonly measure the dimensions of infants’ heads as a result of head circumference is a crucial marker of mind development , stated Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Heart at Nicklaus Kids’s Hospital in Miami. “The dimensions of the pinnacle tracks very intently with the dimensions of the mind,” stated Aftab, who isn’t concerned in Charlie’s case and so can not touch upon his case particularly.

If an toddler’s head development does not monitor with the anticipated development curve, it may be an early signal that one thing is flawed, Aftab stated. Nevertheless, medical doctors do not depend on solely head circumference to find out if there are issues with a child’s growth — additionally they search for indicators comparable to whether or not the child is assembly sure growth milestones, Aftab stated. These indicators embody sitting up and reaching for issues, she stated.


Nevertheless, there are excessive instances — for instance, if a toddler’s head measurement at start was lower than the 10th percentile, and the pinnacle continued to remain small — that would set off medical doctors to carry out neurological exams ahead of they might in different, much less extreme instances, Aftab stated.

A scarcity of head development for 3 months throughout infancy could be “very alarming,” Aftab stated.

As for a way simple it’s to exactly measure a child’s head circumference, it will depend on the way you take a look at the query. The act of measuring a toddler’s head is pretty easy — all you want is a tape measure, Aftab stated. However to verify the measurements are constant, and to find out whether or not the pinnacle circumference falls inside the anticipated vary for infants that age, well being care suppliers bear particular coaching, Aftab stated. Medical doctors search for particular “landmarks” on the child’s cranium to take measurements persistently, she stated.

“Whereas the instruments are quite simple…educated medical professionals have the data of anatomical landmarks,” to allow them to take constant measurements, Aftab stated. Dad and mom who usually are not educated most likely wouldn’t be capable to do that, she stated. That is why pediatricians advocate that folks do not attempt to take head circumference measurements themselves, however as an alternative, have medical doctors take these measurements at commonly scheduled time factors.

In the course of the listening to yesterday, Charlie’s dad and mom walked out of the courtroom as a result of they disagreed with an announcement the decide made, based on the BBC. However they returned to the courtroom within the afternoon. The decide, Justice Nicholas Francis, says he hopes to concern a call in regards to the case early subsequent week, based on the New York Instances .

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