In the first consultations of the baby’s life with the pediatrician, the head circumference is measured . Through this measurement it is possible to monitor the development within the statistics considered normal for each child’s range and phase. When noted during a consultation that these measures are below or above what is considered normal, exams can be requested to analyze the case and verify the problem.
Hydrocephalus and macrocephaly are some of the items on the list of the main reasons for changes in the baby’s head circumference and should be analyzed carefully until reaching the correct diagnosis to receive proper treatment. Obviously a father and a mother when they hear that their child may have the problem is scary, but knowing in depth what it is about can bring greater comfort.
Hydrocephalus is a disease whose main characteristic is the accumulation of fluid inside the skull . This excess fluid, also known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), causes excess brain pressure and swelling of the head. It is the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and has the function of protecting the area, but when unable to perform its work and blocked for some reason, it will cause the accumulation in the cranial area. Excess fluid can also occur due to malabsorption of the body and result in hydrocephalus. Unfortunately a cure for the disease has not yet been found, but it is possible to treat and control hydrocephalus by relieving symptoms.
There are 3 types of hydrocephalus and each of them is related to the causes:
Fetal Hydrocephalus – When the disease is discovered during pregnancy, through ultrasound, the disease is called fetal or congenital hydrocephalus. The problem occurs due to genetic issues due to the use of drugs or infections that the pregnant woman may have suffered during the gestational period such as toxoplasmosis , syphilis and rubella. During fetal development, malformation of the fetus’ central nervous system occurs, causing the accumulation of fluids in the skull and increasing the size of the head.
Infant Hydrocephalus – Not all people with hydrocephalus are born with the problem. However, some acquire it in early childhood and may occur due to brain tumors, malformation or even a cyst that is preventing the passage of fluid. In the case of the cyst, hydrocephalus gets a different name, such as obstructive hydrocephalus where bleeding, bleeding and infections in the nervous system can occur.
Pressure Hydrocephalus – Adults can also acquire the disease at any stage of life. Usually older people over 65 are more likely to develop the problem, especially if they have had problems such as stroke, hemorrhage, Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumor. Pressure hydrocephalus in this case occurs due to the malabsorption of the liquid by the organism or by the increase in its production.
Another problem that is also pointed out by the growth of the head, macrocephaly is a condition normally considered as family genetic inheritance. However, it can be the result of several other health problems and therefore must be investigated for the real diagnosis. The main causes of macrocephaly are:
- Chronic hematomas
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Tumor cerebral
Some diseases can also result with the growth of the head circumference as is the case of Morquio’s Syndrome, hurler’s syndrome and Canavan’s disease . Monthly monitoring of the baby and child at the pediatrician is extremely important and it is through this monitoring that it is possible to detect any problem. Obviously, by measuring the head, it is not possible to give the correct diagnosis, but through the weight and height table it is possible to monitor if something is not within the normal range and request exams to prove whether something is wrong or not.
The first step when found above-average growth is to analyze the child’s brain conditions and for that purpose an MRI or CT scan is requested. Through the results the pediatrician will assess the condition and will direct you to the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms and Treatment of Hydrocephalus and Macrocephaly
Both hydrocephalus and macrocephaly have as their main symptom the abnormal growth of the head. However, more particular symptoms can be observed even at the request of the pediatrician to verify the condition. Hydrocephalus in babies, in addition to cranial enlargement, may have difficulty in controlling the head, irritability, low eyes, vomiting, epileptic seizures and veins of the head and very dilated molar.
Already older children, the symptoms may come with severe headache, loss of movement, vomiting, urinary incontinence, learning difficulties and changes in speech and memory, strabismus and slow growth . In the case of adults who develop hydrocephalus, the head is not altered in size, as the cranial bones have already been developed, but memory loss and urinary incontinence occur frequently.
The treatment of hydrocephalus can be through medication or surgery . The surgical procedure aims to drain the fluid by directing it to other parts of the body, relieving brain pressure. This surgery where a valve is placed has offered good returns and quality of life for children and patients with hydrocephalus. However, it is necessary to be aware of signs and possible problems with the valve as it can be a gateway for infections and even a defect in its function.
The symptoms of macrocephaly are very similar to that of hydrocephalus and may be accompanied by a lack of appetite, excessive sleep, mood changes, vomiting and involuntary eye movements . Treatment consists of relieving symptoms and their complications. In the case when macrocephaly occurs due to hydrocephalus, treatment is directed to the issue. When considered family genetics, there is no treatment indicated other than the containment of some symptoms.
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.