Microcephaly and macrocephaly in autism

Eric Fombonne, Bernadette Rogé, Jacques Claverie, Stéphanie Courty, Jeanne Frémolle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


Data from a series of 126 autistic children ages 2-16 years and referred to an Autism Diagnosis Unit in South-West France were examined. Macrocephaly (head circumference > 97th centile) was observed in 16.7% of the sample, a significantly higher proportion than that expected. Macrocephaly was more frequent among older subjects but was otherwise not associated with gender, developmental level, the presence of epilepsy or of medical disorders, or severity of autistic symptomatology. Microcephaly (head circumference < 3rd centile) was also significantly raised and found in 15.1% of the sample. Microcephaly was significantly associated with the presence of medical disorders. Results support those from recent studies suggesting a raised rate of macrocephaly in autism which, pooling published data, can be estimated to be 20%. It is argued that the raised incidence of microcephaly among low-functioning autistic subjects with medical disorders might have contributed to delay the recognition of an increased head circumference among a minority of subjects with idiopathic autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of autism and developmental disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Macrocephaly
  • Microcephaly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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