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Overview of Hydrocephalus


If your newborn has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, your baby’s physical and cognitive development might be adversely affected. This birth injury could be caused by genetics, developmental disorders or medical negligence.

Hydrocephalus is characterized by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain, which leads to harmful pressure on brain tissue. When it results from brain trauma, cerebral hemorrhage or bacterial infections, you should speak with a Cleveland birth injury lawyer to discuss filing a medical malpractice claim.

Signs and Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

The most obvious sign of hydrocephalus in a newborn is a larger than normal head. Other symptoms include:

  • vomiting;
  • rapid increase in head growth;
  • bulging soft spot;
  • sleepiness;
  • irritability;
  • eyes that tend to flex downward;
  • seizures; and
  • a high pitched cry (this symptom alone demands emergency treatment.).

To confirm a diagnosis of hydrocephalus, your doctor will order either an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan or other exam to evaluate your child’s neurological condition.

Treatment for Hydrocephalus

Treatment generally involves a surgical shunt system (shunt, catheter and valve) to force a detour of excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to other parts of the body. However, as with all medical devices, a shunt system carries potential complications. These complications may include: infections, obstructions, mechanical failure, and the need to adjust or replace the catheter.

Some shunt complications can lead to other problems, such as draining too much or too little cerebrospinal fluid. Overdraining can cause blood vessels to tear; underdraining can cause hydrocephalus symptoms to recur, both of which could lead to additional medical treatment for your baby.

Your doctor might also suggest that you work with a team of specialists including occupational therapists, pediatric psychologists and educational experts to help your child conquer the challenges of daily life and school. When treatment is timely, your baby will have a good chance for a positive outcome. If your baby does not receive timely treatment for hydrocephalus, the prognosis could be as severe as paralysis or death.

If you think your child acquired hydrocephalus because your doctor failed to treat an infection or because birthing complications were mishandled, a Cleveland birth injury lawyer will go over your case. If negligence can be determined, your Cleveland birth injury lawyer will fight to help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your child’s medical expenses.

You might be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against several parties including the hospital where the malpractice took place. It would be in your best interest to speak with a Cleveland birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to give them adequate time to conduct a thorough investigation on your child’s behalf.

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