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All this week, our blog will discuss the potentially serious birth injury known as hydrocephalus, otherwise known as “water on the brain,” as part of our ongoing efforts to provide basic background information to the parents of newborns about conditions that can seem both frightening and altogether foreign.
Before beginning, however, it’s important to reiterate that any parent with lingering concerns over whether their child’s condition can be attributed to any sort of medical negligence should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can examine what happened and outline your options.
What is hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is a condition in which cerebral spinal fluid — or CSF — cannot drain from the brain and begins to backup inside the skull. In newborns, hydrocephalus can cause excessive head swelling that can rapidly progress to brain damage and even death if left untreated.
What is CSF?
CSF is a clear liquid that forms a sort of protective cushion around the brain and spinal cord. However, it does much more than just shield the central nervous system. It also serves as a medium to deliver nutrients to the brain and remove waste for absorption by the bloodstream.
How does hydrocephalus occur?
CSF typically travels through tiny ventricles in the brain and exits through what is known as the cistern, a small opening situated at the base of the brain.
Hydrocephalus occurs when there is a blockage among these ventricles that causes the CSF to essentially pool in the skull. It can also occur, however, when the bloodstream fails to absorb the CSF, or the choroid plexus, the location of the brain that produces CSF, is operating beyond excess capacity.
We’ll continue to examine hydrocephalus in our next post, including how it can be present at birth.
Source: KidsHealth, “Hydrocephalus,” Accessed Feb. 23, 2015