After hearing about some of the dangerous conditions that may occur in newborns, you may be wondering, what is the main cause of hydrocephalus? Although there are multiple potential reasons for hydrocephalus to form, an injury that occurs during the birthing process is one of the most common reasons.
If the baby’s head receives some sort of trauma during a vaginal birth, it is possible that hydrocephalus could occur. This can be a trauma that is difficult to anticipate, such as unexpected complications that cause the delivery to take too much time, or a preventable reason, such as the doctor misusing tools, causing an injury to the baby.
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Symptoms of Hydrocephalus
Swelling inside the brain of an infant because of excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), creates the condition of hydrocephalus. Some of the physical symptoms of this condition include:
- Increased circumference of the head
- Bulges on the skull
- Sunsetting eyes (where the eyes are turned downward)
Because the bones in the newborn’s skull have not yet fused together, the head is able to swell significantly when hydrocephalus is present. The skull needs to remain pliable during birth to allow the baby’s head to pass through the birthing canal, as well as allowing the baby’s brain to grow as he or she ages. Over a period of time after birth, the bones in the skull eventually fuse.
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Common Causes of Hydrocephalus in Newborns
Congenital hydrocephalus is one of the most common reasons this condition forms in a newborn, as it involves some sort of trauma to the brain, usually during birth. Acquired hydrocephalus is another cause of this condition, and it usually is acquired through disease or a genetic issue, often forming in the womb.
According to the Hydrocephalus Association, one out of every 770 babies will develop at least a mild form of hydrocephalus, making it almost as common as Down’s syndrome. Additionally, babies who are born with spina bifida are more likely to also develop hydrocephalus at some point. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 1 in every 2,758 births result in spina bifida.
When the baby’s head undergoes excessive force during a vaginal delivery, this trauma could lead to the formation of hydrocephalus. Because of the excess force, the baby could suffer intracranial hemorrhages with blood or CSF, resulting in hydrocephalus.
Sometimes, a doctor’s error while using an instrument to aid in the delivery could lead to the birth injury that results in congenital hydrocephalus. These errors may include:
- Improper use of forceps: where the doctor applies too much pressure to the baby’s skull with the forceps during delivery, causing a rupture.
- Improper use of vacuum extractor: where the doctor uses a vacuum extractor improperly during the birth, causing a rupture of vessels inside the skull.
- Head is too large: where the baby’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s birth canal, causing the baby to become stuck and creating a lack of blood flow to the brain, which is something the doctor should have anticipated through examinations before birth.
If a baby is born prematurely, he or she has a greater risk of congenital hydrocephalus. Because the premature baby’s blood vessels are not as developed as they should be, this can lead to a greater chance of rupture during delivery if the doctor does not use birth tools properly.
Doctors must be especially on the watch for this condition in a premature baby. They should do everything possible to prevent a premature birth.
Through exams during pregnancy, a doctor should be able to anticipate some of the issues that could lead to the formation of hydrocephalus. Some of the ways in which a baby could end up suffering from acquired hydrocephalus include:
- Tumors in the central nervous system
- Genetic issues
- Meningitis infection
- Herpes encephalitis infection
- Excessive use of Pitocin to induce labor
- Formation of aqueductal stenosis in the brain
Additionally, a defect in the neural tube during fetal development could cause CSF to leak into the brain, causing swelling.
Protecting Your Right to Pursue Compensation for Birth Injuries
If you have received a diagnosis of hydrocephalus after the birth of your baby, you may be going through a number of emotions. You also may be questioning how this could have happened, wondering, what is the main cause of hydrocephalus?
If you believe that the doctor treating the baby during your pregnancy and birth made an error that led to the formation of this condition, you have the right to seek compensation for your family’s and baby’s pain, suffering, and medical bills.
Consider hiring the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to help. Our team will study the facts in your case, seeking to determine exactly what happened and why your baby developed hydrocephalus. We will work hard to help you receive the damages you deserve. Contact our team at (800) 222-9529 today for a free review of your case.