Hydrocephalus in Children – Causes and Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Children

Hydrocephalus in children is a condition in which there is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in and around the brain and spinal cord. The name literally means ‘water on the brain’. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain cavities and the fluid circulates in the brain and spinal cord thus nourishing them. Now the fluid gets reabsorbed into the blood stream.

Some circumstances may disturb or prevent the production of cerebrospinal fluid and thus inhibit the normal pathway leading to hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus can occur at any age but it causes specific problems in infants.

Causes of Hydrocephalus in Children
Hydrocephalus is classified into two forms – obstructive and non-obstructive. Obstructive hydrocephalus occurs in the brain as a result of cerebrospinal fluid blockage. Non-obstructive hydrocephalus occurs when the re-absorption of the fluid into the bloodstream is interfered by any activity.

Causes of Obstructive Hydrocephalus
The factors that cause obstructive hydrocephalus include:

  • Viral infections in the brain of the fetus
  • Tumors that block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain
  • Protrusion of spinal cord outside the body called as spina bifida
  • Infection of membranes that surround the brain, also called meningitis
  • Inherited brain abnormality
  • Formation of cysts
  • Bleeding inside the brain

Causes of Non-obstructive Hydrocephalus

The factors that cause non-obstructive hydrocephalus include:

  • Infection of membranes that surround the brain, also called as meningitis
  • Leukemia, a type of blood cancer
  • Bleeding over the brain surface

Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

The symptoms of hydrocephalus differ depending on the age of the child.

Infants and young children – The signs and symptoms in infants and young children include:

  • Fast increasing head size
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Drooping of the head
  • Restlessness, fussiness and crying more than the normal
  • Bulging of the soft spots of the head
  • Eyes drooping downwards

Older children –
The signs and symptoms in older children include:

  • Facing difficulty in walking and balance
  • Problems in controlling urination
  • Memory loss, learning problems and mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Headaches that occur for long period
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurring of vision
  • Fused bones in the skull

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