Definition

Fetal ventriculomegaly is the widening of the fluid-filled spaces of the brain. These are called the ventricles. It happens in babies before they are born.

Causes

It may be caused by problems with how the brain grows. It may also be caused by the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. It should move smoothly. If its flow is slowed or stopped, it can put pressure on the ventricles and make them get bigger.

Risk Factors

Health problems that may raise your child’s risk are:

  • Brain cysts
  • Spina bifida
  • Bleeding within the brain
  • A rare birth defect called agenesis of the corpus callosum

Certain infections of the pregnant mother can raise the risk. These are:

  • Cytomegalovirus—an infection caused by a type of herpes virus
  • Toxoplasmosis—an infection linked to cat stool or infected food
  • Syphilis—a sexually transmitted infection
  • Chickenpox
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis—a virus spread by mice (rare)

Symptoms

After birth, your child may have:

  • Rapid head growth
  • Bulging soft spot
  • Protruding scalp veins
  • Problems with eye movement
  • Delays in development
  • Problems feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Fussiness or sleepiness

Diagnosis

This health problem is often found during a ultrasound before the baby is born. Further testing may be done by specialists and after birth.

Before birth, the baby’s health may be checked with:

Abdominal Ultrasound

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Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for your child.

More ultrasounds may be done to check the baby’s health. Sometimes this health problem gets better on its own.

If the problem gets worse, other methods will be needed to drain the fluid. This can be done by placing a ventriculoperitoneal shuntafter your child is born.

Prevention

This health problem can’t be prevented.