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Concussion and Brain Trauma Program

What is hydrocephalus? Is it common? What do I do if I think my child has hydrocephalus?


Hydrocephalus — is commonly knows as “water on the brain” — is a term used to describe increased collection of brain fluid- known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in or around the brain. Normally CSF flows over the brain and spinal cord but in hydrocephalus the fluid gathers.


The collection of fluid can happen if:

  • a blockage stops the fluid from flowing

  • fluid stops being absorbed

  • the brain produces too much fluid


Too much creates pressure on the brain inside the skull. If this pressure isn’t relieved, it can damage the brain.

Hydrocephalus is often congenital, meaning babies are born with it, but older children can also develop it. In some cases, hydrocephalus can develop from other brain conditions

Hydrocephalus needs treatment before symptoms get worse. The most common treatment involves diverting the fluid to another part of the body, often using a small tube known as a shunt. Some children may also be eligible for a minimally invasive surgery known as endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) to treat their hydrocephalus.

What are the effects of hydrocephalus?


Epilepsy can have a profound effect on a child’s life. Some children may fall or get injured during a seizure, and the episode can leave your child exhausted. The abnormal brain activity that happens during a seizure can sometimes cause damage to the brain. So seizures and epilepsy are a special concern in children, because children’s brains are busy growing and changing.

Epilepsy sometimes can cause changes in behavior and personality or lead to other neurological problems, learning difficulties or depression and anxiety. Identifying these sorts of problems and intervening early are important aspects of caring for a child with epilepsy. Some doctors are starting to use the term “epilepsy spectrum disorder” to reflect how complex epilepsy can be.


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