After complications during the birth of your baby, you may be asking yourself, how do I know if my child has hydrocephalus? When the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) builds up inside the brain of the child, it can cause hydrocephalus. This can lead to a rapid increase in the size of the head of the newborn, as well as seizures.
Hydrocephalus is a condition that can form in newborns after some sort of injury occurs during the birth process. Some babies develop this condition because of a genetic issue. It also can form in adults.
Although there is no absolute cure for hydrocephalus, there are a number of treatments doctors can attempt to use. Although doctors should work to avoid causing this type of injury in the first place, as any diagnosis of hydrocephalus can be a significant hindrance to the lifespan and quality of life for the child.
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A Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus is More Common Than You Think
Hydrocephalus is more common than you may think. According to the Hydrocephalus Association, one out of every 770 babies will develop hydrocephalus, either through genetic issues or through an injury during birth.
It is also fairly common for a baby born with spina bifida to develop hydrocephalus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says an average of 1,645 babies are born in the United States each year with spina bifida.
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Causes of the Birth Injury Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus can occur because of a genetic issue for the baby or because of the presence of some sort of disease, either of which are called congenital hydrocephalus. A doctor should be able to anticipate the possibility of a problem during the pregnancy that could lead to hydrocephalus and take any steps required to try to prevent this condition.
An injury to the baby’s head during labor is another potential cause of this condition, which is called acquired hydrocephalus.
Understanding How an Injury During Birth Can Happen
During a vaginal delivery, it is possible that the baby’s head will suffer excessive pressure on it. This pressure could cause blood vessels to rupture, leading to intracranial hemorrhages and swelling inside the skull, causing injuries to the brain. This swelling is hydrocephalus.
Some of the reasons an injury could occur during birth that leads to swelling in the brain include:
- Use of forceps: where the doctor deploys forceps to help guide the baby’s head through the birth canal, but uses them improperly, causing excessive pressure on the baby’s head.
- Use of a vacuum extractor: where the doctor applies a vacuum extractor and pump to the baby’s head to guide it through the birth canal, potentially causing excess pressure on the head and causing the buildup of fluid.
- Prolonged birth: where the baby is in the birth canal too long, which can lead to a lack of oxygen and extra pressure on the head, increasing the possibility of the formation of hydrocephalus.
Other Potential Causes of Hydrocephalus
If your newborn developed signs during pregnancy that could increase the risk of hydrocephalus, your doctor should have detected some of these issues and taken any preventative steps possible. Some of the issues that could cause this condition include:
- Premature birth, so doctors should do everything possible to prevent it
- Infections, including meningitis
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Use of Pitocin to induce labor
Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Infants
If there is any possibility of hydrocephalus, doctors need to keep an eye on the infant, looking for signs of this condition. Although some babies do not show any clear signs when hydrocephalus is present, this is not common. Some of the symptoms of this condition include:
- Swelling in the head (the newborn’s skull expands because it is not fused yet)
- Eyes that are fixed looking downward
- Problems with feeding
- Underdeveloped muscle tone
- Excessive sleepiness
Doctors may use imaging of the head, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to confirm hydrocephalus.
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Contact the Office of a Birth Injury Lawyer to Learn More Today
So how do I know if my child has hydrocephalus? If the doctor made an error while using tools aimed to assist with the birth, this could cause head trauma that can lead to hydrocephalus. Doctors must keep a close eye out for signs of hydrocephalus after a difficult birth.
It is also possible that your child developed hydrocephalus in the womb because of a preventable disease or condition. If you believe a doctor’s negligence caused the injury to your newborn, you have the right to seek compensation for the pain, suffering, and medical bills your family has accumulated while treating your baby’s injuries.
In some cases, the doctor may not agree that he or she caused an injury during the birth that led to a diagnosis of hydrocephalus. If you choose to hire the team at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we will study the facts in the case to attempt to show that the doctor should be held responsible. Call us for a free case review at (800) 222-9529 as soon as possible.