According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), anywhere from one to two babies out of every 1,000 are born with hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fluid doesn’t properly drain from the brain. CSF is the watery, clear fluid that cushions and surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
When the cerebrospinal fluid fails to drain, it places the brain under excessive pressure and causes swelling, which damages the brain tissue. Hydrocephalus is directly related to intellectual, developmental, and physical impairments.
Hydrocephalus can begin before the baby is born from spinal column birth defects and genetic abnormalities. It can also begin while the child is in the womb as a result of certain pregnancy infections, such as rubella. Hydrocephalus can also occur in infants, toddlers, and adolescents due to:
Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary depending on the age of onset but may include:
If left untreated, hydrocephalus can be fatal. While treatment may not reverse the brain damage that has already happened, the goal of treatment is to prevent the brain damage from progressing further. Physicians typically explore one of the following medical treatment options: