“Get–A–Head” is working to deliver a nationwide campaign to spread awareness about the need for trained healthcare professionals to measure and record a baby’s head circumference regularly in the first year of life, so that babies showing signs of hydrocephalus can be found sooner and therefore treated earlier.
The campaign is targeted at; parents-to-be, new parents and health care professionals. It aims to increase understanding of the importance of these measurements as a tool for spotting hydrocephalus.
An estimated 1 in every 770 babies born each year will develop hydrocephalus each year (source: Hydrocephalus Association in the US), and without treatment, it is life-threatening.
One of the ways hydrocephalus can be diagnosed is through regular measurements of a baby’s head circumference, which is then recorded in the baby’s ‘Red Book’. This campaign helps parents-to-be, new parents and healthcare professionals understand why head measurement is so crucial, as well as how to spot other signs of the condition.
Signs of hydrocephalus include:
- A rapidly growing head circumference (increased by 2 or more centile lines on a growth chart)
- An unusually large head
- A tense or bulging fontanelle
- Prominent scalp veins
- Extreme irritability
- Difficulty holding their head up
- Eyes that are fixed looking downwards, sometimes called “sunsetting eyes”
- Also consider: a baby not fitting through the head space for a Babygro of their age (or adjusted age), or hats for their age not fitting, but clothes for the rest of their body fitting well.
A baby’s head should be measured:
- Around 24-48 hours after birth
- At the 6-8 week check
- And at anytime there are concerns over the baby’s growth, development or general health.
This campaign is so important. A recent survey undertaken in 2023 by Harry’s HAT discovered that of the 750 new parents who responded, only 20% were aware that measuring a baby’s head can help identify hydrocephalus. Almost half (45%), of parents surveyed did not know that their baby’s head should be measured at around 24-hours after birth. This needs to change!
Coverage and engagement
Free NHS approved tape measures
Thanks to a kind and generous grant from the Yateley and District Lions Club we have 10,000 disposable NHS approved paper tape measures.
We can give these away for FREE in bundles to Health Visitors, Midwives and GPs upon request as well as to families whose children have been diagnosed with, or who are being monitored for, hydrocephalus and so are required to measure their child’s head, record the measurement and then phone this through to their neurosurgical team.
Please email: email@example.com if you need some.
Just before 6 weeks of age he had a six week check with his health visitor to do the all of the usual baby checks, and this thankfully included a head circumference measurement. This measurement showed that Jethro’s head had increased rapidly from 25% at birth to 75% six weeks later.