Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Congenital Hydrocephalus - Topic Overview

What is congenital hydrocephalus?

Congenital hydrocephalus is a buildup of excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain at birth. The extra fluid can increase pressure in the baby's brain camera.gif, causing brain damage and mental and physical problems. This condition is rare.

Finding the condition early and treating it quickly can help limit any long-term problems. But long-term effects mostly depend on what caused the fluid buildup, how bad it gets, and how the baby responds to treatment.

When hydrocephalus doesn't occur until later in life, it is called acquired hydrocephalus. This topic focuses on hydrocephalus that is present at birth (congenital).

What causes congenital hydrocephalus?

This condition is caused by an imbalance between how much fluid the brain makes and how well the body is able to process it.

Normally, fluid flows through and out of chambers of the brain called ventricles, and then around the brain and spinal cord. The fluid is then absorbed by the thin tissue around the brain and spinal cord. But with hydrocephalus, the fluid can't move where it needs to or is not absorbed as it should be. And in rare cases the brain makes too much fluid.

Congenital hydrocephalus may happen because of:

What are the symptoms?

The clearest symptom of hydrocephalus is a head that is larger than normal. You and your doctor may notice it when the baby is born or within the first several months of life. It's normal for a baby's head to grow a lot during the first year. But with congenital hydrocephalus, the head may grow faster than the normal rate for a baby's height and weight.

The condition may cause the soft spot (fontanelle) on your baby’s head to feel firm or bulge out. Also, the areas between the skull bones (sutures camera.gif) may be larger than normal.

If pressure builds in the brain, your baby may:

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

    mother holding baby at night
    mother with sick child
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Woman holding feet up to camera
    Father kissing newborn baby
    baby gear slideshow