Hydrocephalus is a condition resulting from an overabundance of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain. It is caused by a blockage of ventricles in the brain which prevent the fluid to discharge. As time passes, the excess fluid increases the size of head circumference.
The cerebrospinal fluid is meant to flow all over the central nervous system along with blood. If hydrocephalus is not treated immediately, the fluid will force the skull to bulge out causing the scalp to become thinner and the head to grow bigger. In this stage, it is difficult to bring back the condition to normal.
Hydrocephalus is usually a congenital defect. It is characterized an abnormal head size and forehead bulging out because of an infection or a tumor. The head circumference is unusually enlarged, the scalp is thin and shiny with easily visible veins. Both eyes gaze downward with whites of the eyes showing above the iris like the setting sun.
What are the causes?
Hydrocephalus can be congenital, genetically passed through generations, or caused by an infection, or tumor. Most common cause is toxoplasmosis brought by the parasites in cat' s fur. Some infections which may lead to health problems during pregnancy are:
The infection is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite commonly found in the infected cat' s feces or fur, raw meat, or vegetables.
It infects during pregnancy. You may ask the risks to your obstetrician.
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus
From rodents (rat or hamster)
- Varicella Zoster Virus which causes chickenpox and parotitis.
It can be prevented by vaccination.
Can it be prevented?
This disease can be easily prevented by curing the infection before it infects fetus. Generally the prevention of toxoplasmosis can be conducted by:
- Checking your pregnancy regularly. The fetus head development can be monitored by taking a regular USG examination.
- Preventing the infection during pregnancy. Feline parasitic infection (Toxoplasma gondii) during pregnancy may cause hydrocephalus in fetus. The infection can be transmitted from mother, who often plays with the infected cat, to her baby through placenta.
- Vaccinating your children and protecting them from head injury.