Congenital Hydrocephalus

This term refers to hydrocephalus occurring in utero or early in the postnatal period that causes an actual increase in head size because the cranial bones of the skull are not fully fused until the end ofthe second year of life. Because the brain expands under internal pressure and the skull is soft and malleable, the head measurably enlarges. The common etiologies of this problem are germinal matrix hemorrhage in preterm infants, fetal and neonatal infections, Chiari malformation, aqueductal stenosis, and the Dandy-Walker syndrome. Symptoms may be irritability, poor feeding, torpor, and coma. If treatment with the use of a shunting procedure is not undertaken, mental retardation is frequent.

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