Hydrocephaly: Should I Be Worried?

I am 30 weeks pregnant and a recent ultrasound indicated the possibility of hydrocephaly. I'm scheduled for another ultrasound in three weeks. I can't find much information about effective treatment of hydrocephaly before delivery. Is there any? How worried should I be?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Unfortunately, hydrocephaly is one of the most common of the congenital fetal anomalies, and although we understand some associations, we do not understand always why it occurs. The incidence ranges from 0.3 to 0.8 per 1,000 births. It can be caused by genetic alterations (familial inheritance), infections and it can happen spontaneously as well.

The characteristic ultrasound finding is dilatation of the lateral ventricles of the brain, which is difficult to find until mid-pregnancy.

The neurological outlook for these babies is rather bleak, but there has been some research in in-utero surgery. They place a shunt or tube in the brain that drains off fluid so pressure does not build up and damage brain tissue. The results of these procedures show mixed results and, of course, it is quite risky.

I would recommend that you not wait until the next ultrasound but consult a perinatologist as soon as possible. The earlier that a plan is in place, the better for you and for the baby.

All of us will be praying for you.

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