Hydrocephalus | Symptoms and Causes

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact the Hydrocephalus Program

What causes hydrocephalus in children?

There is no one cause for the type of hydrocephalus babies are born with. It may be linked to a genetic defect or a complication of another disorder, such as spina bifida or encephaloceles.

Children may also develop hydrocephalus after birth as a complication of:

What are the symptoms of hydrocephalus?

Symptoms of hydrocephalus can vary widely depending on your child’s age and how advanced the condition is when it’s discovered.

Infants with hydrocephalus may have:

  • an unusually large head
  • a rapid increase in head size
  • extreme sleepiness
  • vomiting that is frequent and severe
  • trouble looking up when the head is facing forward
  • seizures that have no known cause

Older children with hydrocephalus may have:

  • severe headaches, often with nausea and vomiting
  • blurred or double vision
  • problems with balance
  • trouble looking up when the head is facing forward
  • problems with coordination
  • trouble standing or walking
  • loss of bladder control
  • extreme tiredness
  • irritability for no apparent reason
  • delays in reaching developmental milestones
  • trouble remembering and focusing
  • sudden changes in personality

See a medical professional right away if your child has any of these symptoms. 

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

Close