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What causes hydrocephalus?

The causes of hydrocephalus are still not well understood. Hydrocephalus may result from inherited genetic abnormalities (such as the genetic defect that causes aqueductal stenosis) or developmental disorders (such as those associated with neural tube defects, including spina bifida and encephalocele). Other possible causes include complications of premature birth such as intraventricular hemorrhage, diseases such as meningitis, tumors, traumatic head injury, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, which block the exit of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles to the cisterns or eliminate the passageway for CSF into the cisterns.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Hydrocephalus is caused by the interrupted flow and subsequent accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is the complex liquid that feeds and surrounds the brain, nourishing it, cushioning it, and keeping it healthy.

This fluid moves through your brain through pathways called ventricles. When the cerebrospinal fluid fails to be properly absorbed or becomes built up in a ventricle due to obstruction, hydrocephalus occurs.

The reason for the excess fluid can be attributed to something that happened before birth or it may be a result of a condition that occurred after birth. Genetic abnormalities, birth defects or an infection in the womb can cause disorders that affect the spinal chord and brain leading to hydrocephalus in infants. Tumors, head injury and certain infections in the cerebrospinal fluid can cause bring a form of hydrocephalus, known as normal pressure hydrocephalus, in young children. Adults and the elderly may also suffer a form of hydrocephalus known as normal pressure hydrocephalus, which may be caused by illness or injury.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.