Hydrocephalus, also known as "water on the brain," is a condition in which there is extra cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid acts as a cushion for the brain and spinal cord, supplies nutrients, and takes away waste products.
Hydrocephalus can be present at birth (congenital) or can develop later (acquired).
Congenital hydrocephalus is present at birth, although it may not be detected until later in life. It forms when the brain and surrounding structures develop abnormally. The exact cause is usually unknown, but contributing factors may include genetics and certain infections during pregnancy.
Acquired hydrocephalus results from injuries or illnesses that occur at birth or later, including infections in the brain and spinal column (meningitis), bleeding (hemorrhage) of blood vessels in the brain, severe head injury, brain tumors or cysts. Hydrocephalus also can occur when there is no known injury or illness to cause it.
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