Disease Profile

Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly

Prevalence ?
Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


Age of Onset





Autosomal dominant ?A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease


Autosomal recessive ?Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype


X-linked dominant ?X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


X-linked recessive ?Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder


Mitochondrial or multigenic ?Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor ?Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other Names (AKA)

Microcephalia vera; Microcephaly vera; True microcephaly;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Eye diseases; Nervous System Diseases


Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (often shortened to MCPH, which stands for "microcephaly primary hereditary") is a condition in which infants are born with a very small head and a small brain. MCPH causes mild to moderate intellectual disability, which does not worsen with age, and also mild delayed speech, motor, and language skills. Some people with MCPH have a narrow, sloping forehead; mild seizures; problems with attention or behavior; or short stature compared to others in their family. It normally does not affect any other major organ systems or cause other health problems. MCPH can result from changes (mutations) in the ASPM gene (half of the cases) and at least other ten genes which are involved in early brain development and brain size. It is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. There is no cure and treatment is supportive.[1][2]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
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80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Global developmental delay
Gray matter heterotopia
Intellectual disability, severe
Early and severe mental retardation
Mental retardation, severe
Severe mental retardation

[ more ]

Abnormally small skull
Decreased circumference of cranium
Decreased size of skull
Reduced head circumference
Small head circumference

[ more ]

Short stature
Decreased body height
Small stature

[ more ]

Sloping forehead
Inclined forehead
Receding forehead

[ more ]

Thin upper lip vermilion
Thin upper lip
Upslanted palpebral fissure
Upward slanting of the opening between the eyelids
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal cortical bone morphology
Agenesis of corpus callosum
Increased reflexes
Hypoplasia of the frontal lobes
Underdeveloped frontal lobe
Fewer and broader ridges in brain
Unilateral renal agenesis
Absent kidney on one side
Missing one kidney
Single kidney

[ more ]

Vesicoureteral reflux

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These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

In-Depth Information

  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.


  1. Verloes A, Drunat S, Gressens P & Passemard s. Primary Autosomal Recessive Microcephalies and Seckel Syndrome Spectrum Disorders. GeneReviews. October 31, 2013; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9587/. Accessed 11/9/2015.
  2. Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly. Genetic Home Reference. April, 2011; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/autosomal-recessive-primary-microcephaly. Accessed 11/9/2015.