Looking after a baby is never easy, especially when they get sick. You have to constantly monitor them for fevers, how much they eat, whether they are going to the toilet enough and so on. However, what you really should be on the lookout for are the less obvious problems that can present themself in babies and children. That is why, whenever you take your baby to the doctor for a check-up, the doctor will measure their head. This is done in the hopes that if the baby develops hydrocephalus, it will be spotted and treated within a safe timeframe.
What Is Hydrocephalus?
Inside your brain, there is a component called the choroid plexus which produces a type of fluid called cerebrospinal fluid, often shortened to CSF. This fluid is very important for the brain as it acts as a shock absorbent as well as a source of nutrients which keeps your brain healthy. However, sometimes the choroid plexus will create too much CSF fluid, and it will overfill the space it was designed to occupy. When this happens, it puts immense pressure on your baby's brain and will cause the head to swell up. This is called hydrocephalus and is why your local GP will always measure your baby's head during check-ups.
What Treatment Is There For Hydrocephalus?
The main treatment used to treat hydrocephalus is the installation of a shunt from the brain to the stomach or some other area of the body where the CSF can be safely disposed of. Think of it as like a dam that allows the perfect amount of CSF to remain around the brain and only drains off the overflow. This procedure is done by a neurosurgeon who your GP will immediately refer you to if there is any sort of indication that your baby might have hydrocephalus.
Do You Need To Do Anything After The Shunt Is Installed?
Your neurosurgeon will walk you through ongoing treatment and diagnostic checks that you can perform to keep your baby healthy, but rest assured that once the shunt is installed, the bulk of the work is done. Often, your neurosurgeon will direct you to local rehabilitation groups who specialise in overcoming infant brain surgeries, and these can be a great help. Most of the time, when hydrocephalus is diagnosed early enough (as it is the bulk of the time in Australia), the condition is not fatal and the child goes on to grow up healthily and live a normal life.