Having a baby is a blissful and memorable occasion. After months of nervous anticipation, your bundle of joy makes a life-changing entrance. It is the opportunity for parents and loved ones to finally meet the newest member of the family. This celebration can be disrupted, however, by the sudden news of complications or birth defects. Birth hydrocephalus is an example of these unexpected medical conditions. Hydrocephalus , also referred to as “water on the brain,” is identified by excessive cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Thanks to the advancements in medicine, many children are able to fully recover from this diagnosis. However, if untreated, this condition can lead to brain damage, severe disabilities, and even death. It is important for parents to become familiar with any possible warning signs and risk factors.
Symptoms or Warning Signs
There are certain indications that your baby may have been born with hydrocephalus. Here are a few symptoms of which both parents and medical professionals should become aware:
- Enlarged head
- Bulging soft spots
- Swollen veins
- Eyes focused in a downward direction
After some time, the symptoms can become more severe, such as:
- Vision Problems
- Delayed or abnormal motor skills
Treatment Options and Their Risks
The most common form of treatment for birth hydrocephalus is a shunt procedure. This involves placing a valve into a ventricle of the brain in order to drain the excess fluid. The fluid is typically directed to the stomach, heart, or area surrounding the lungs where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. While this is often the most effective method of treatment, it also carries a significant amount of risk. Shunts often malfunction after the first year, resulting in frequent replacement operations within the patients’ lifetime. Shunt procedures can also lead to serious infections. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove the shunt for several weeks. Another treatment option is an endoscopic third ventriculostomy. During this procedure, the surgeon creates a small opening in the third ventricle to provide an exit for cerebrospinal fluid. It is a minimally invasive and highly effective approach to this condition. It also reduces the chances of infection or long-term problems. However, every baby is not a promising candidate for this operation. Newborns, premature infants, or those born with spina bifida experience a much higher rate of complications from this particular procedure. Your physician and specialists will determine the best route for a safe recovery.
Early detection and treatment is especially important for a diagnosis of birth hydrocephalus. If properly treated, babies born with this condition can go on to live happy and healthy lives. It is natural for parents to put their trust in doctors and the hospital staff, however, you should be your baby’s strongest advocate. It is your responsibility to ensure that your child is receiving the best possible care. Of course, there are some complications that are completely out of the doctor’s control. On the other hand, some problems are the direct result of medical malpractice. If you suspect your baby has suffered due to negligence, seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.