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Published: June 22, 2023

Detecting and Managing It at an Early Age

Medically Reviewed by:
Tatiana Sikorskyj, APN, RNFA
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Updated On: 19 Oct 2023

Hydrocephalus is a medical condition characterized by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain's ventricles. It can lead to increased pressure and swelling, potentially causing various neurological symptoms. Detecting hydrocephalus early is crucial for effective management and preventing long-term complications. In this article, we will explore the age at which hydrocephalus is typically detected and discuss the importance of early diagnosis.

What Age Is Hydrocephalus Detected?

Hydrocephalus can be detected at any age, from infants to adults. However, it is most commonly diagnosed during infancy and childhood. In fact, approximately one in every 500 infants is born with hydrocephalus, making it a relatively common condition among newborns.

During routine prenatal ultrasounds or shortly after birth, doctors may identify certain signs that indicate the presence of hydrocephalus. These signs include an unusually enlarged head circumference, bulging fontanelles (the soft spots on an infant's head), and an abnormally rapid increase in head size. If these signs are observed, further diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scan may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

It is worth noting that hydrocephalus can also develop later in life as a result of traumatic brain injury, infection, tumors, or other underlying medical conditions. In such cases, symptoms may vary and may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, vision problems, and cognitive difficulties. If any of these symptoms arise, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial to determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment.


Importance of Early Detection

Detecting hydrocephalus at an early age is vital because prompt diagnosis allows for timely intervention and treatment. Early detection enables healthcare professionals to implement strategies to manage the condition effectively, potentially reducing the risk of long-term complications.

The brain of an infant is still developing rapidly, and untreated hydrocephalus can cause significant damage, leading to developmental delays, impaired motor skills, cognitive deficits, and even permanent brain damage. By identifying hydrocephalus early, doctors can initiate treatment options such as surgical interventions, medication, or the placement of a shunt—a device that helps drain excess CSF from the brain—to prevent or minimize these adverse effects.

Early diagnosis also provides an opportunity for healthcare providers to closely monitor the condition, ensuring optimal management and adjusting treatment plans as needed. Regular follow-up appointments and imaging studies help gauge the effectiveness of treatment and allow for timely adjustments, ensuring the best possible outcome for the affected individual.

Hydrocephalus is a condition that can affect individuals of all ages, but it is most commonly detected during infancy and childhood. Early diagnosis is crucial for effective management, preventing long-term complications, and optimizing outcomes. Healthcare professionals employ various diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of hydrocephalus, allowing them to initiate appropriate treatment promptly.

If you suspect hydrocephalus in your child or experience symptoms that may indicate the condition, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Remember, timely intervention can make a significant difference in managing hydrocephalus and promoting the overall well-being of those affected.



Early detection of hydrocephalus is crucial for effective management and positive outcomes, particularly in infants and children. Healthcare professionals utilize various diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of hydrocephalus, enabling timely treatment. If you suspect your child has hydrocephalus or experience symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional pediatrician promptly. The New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute emphasizes the significance of early detection and provides the necessary care and support to individuals with hydrocephalus, promoting their overall well-being. Stay informed, prioritize your health, and seek assistance from trusted professionals to ensure a fulfilling life for those affected by hydrocephalus.

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