Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 113–119

Microcephaly and Macrocephaly in Autism


  • Eric Fombonne
    • MRC Child Psychiatry UnitInstitute of Psychiatry
  • Bernadette Rogé
    • Unité de Diagnostic et d'Evaluation de l'AutismeHopital La Grave
    • Université de Toulouse Le Mirail
  • Jacques Claverie
    • Unité de Diagnostic et d'Evaluation de l'AutismeHopital La Grave
  • Stéphanie Courty
    • Université de Toulouse Le Mirail
  • Jeanne Frémolle
    • Université de Toulouse Le Mirail

DOI: 10.1023/A:1023036509476

Cite this article as:
Fombonne, E., Rogé, B., Claverie, J. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (1999) 29: 113. doi:10.1023/A:1023036509476


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.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999