Hydrocephalus is due to a problem with the flow of the fluid that surrounds the brain. This fluid is called the cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF. It surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and helps cushion the brain.
CSF normally moves through the brain and the spinal cord, and is soaked into the bloodstream.
CSF levels in the brain can rise if:
- The flow of CSF is blocked
- It does not get absorb into the blood properly
- your brain makes too much of CSF
Too much CSF puts pressure on the brain. This pushes the brain up against the skull and damage brain tissue.
Hydrocephalus may begin while the baby is growing in the womb. It is common in babies who have a myelomeningocele, a birth defect in which the spinal column does not close properly.
Hydrocephalus may also be due to:
- Genetic defects
- Certain infections during pregnancy
In young children, Hydrocephalus may result from the following conditions:
- Infections that affect the central nervous system such as Meningitis or Encephalities especially in infants
- Bleeding in the brain during or soon after delivery especially in premature babies
- Injury before, during or after childbirth, including Subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Tumors of the central nervous system, including the brain or spinal cord
- Injury or trauma
Hydrocephalus most often occurs in children, but may also occur in adults and the elderly.