Hydrocephalus

Kayla Rubio

How The Child Gets It

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows through your brain and spinal cord in normal conditions. Under certain conditions, the amount of CSF in your brain increases. The amount of CSF can increase when:

  • a blockage develops that prevents CSF from flowing normally
  • there is a decrease in the ability of blood vessels to absorb it
  • your brain produces an excess amount of it

Too much of this fluid puts your brain under too much pressure. This pressure can cause brain swelling, which can damage your brain tissue.

Underlying Causes

In some cases, hydrocephalus starts before a baby is born. This can result from:

  • a birth defect in which the spinal column doesn’t close
  • a genetic abnormality
  • certain infections that occur during pregnancy, such as rubella
  • This condition can also occur in infants, toddlers, and older children due to:

    • central nervous system infections such as meningitis, especially in babies
    • bleeding in the brain during or shortly after delivery, especially in babies born prematurely
    • injuries that occur before, during, or after delivery
    • head trauma
    • central nervous system tumors

Sympotoms

  • bulging fontanel, or soft spot on the surface of the skull
  • a rapid increase in head circumference
  • eyes that are fixed downward
  • seizures
  • extreme fussiness
  • vomiting
  • excessive sleepiness
  • poor feeding
  • low muscle tone and strength

Treatment

There is no treatment for Hydrocephalus.

Life Expectancy

Hydrocephalus can be fatal if it’s left untreated. Treatment may not reverse brain damage that’s already occurred. The goal is to prevent further brain damage. This involves restoring the normal flow of CSF.

Facts

  • Hydrocephalus is one of the most common birth defects, each year one out of every 500 births results in hydrocephalus.
  • Brain injury occurs every 15 seconds in this country - and in some cases leads to the development of hydrocephalus.
  • There are approximately 75,000 discharges a year from hospitals in the U.S. with a diagnosis of hydrocephalus.