Hypoxia and brain trauma can lead to bleeding inside brain ventricles, which can cause ventricular swelling due to excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This damages white matter in the brain and impairs the growth of the cerebral cortex, significantly impacting memory, attention, perception, thought, language and consciousness. Hydrocephalus occurs as a secondary result of other brain injuries in a cascade where damage occurs in a feedback loop to cause more damage. This is usually treated using a shunt system to relieve pressure on the brain from CSF.
Permanent damage to a baby’s brain can occur when a baby experiences a lack of oxygen (hypoxia), head trauma or complications around the time of birth. Hypoxia and trauma can cause bleeding inside the ventricles of the brain, called an intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). This can progress to significant swelling of the ventricles, called hydrocephalus. The swelling is caused by too much cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Hydrocephalus can lead to damaged blood vessels and destruction of white matter in the brain, and the cerebral cortex may not develop properly. White matter is important because it regulates the electrical signals between cells called neurons. It is responsible for transmitting information throughout the brain, to the spinal cord, and outside the brain to the rest of the body. These signals control our bodily functions; nerve cells that transmit signals to the brain, or neurons that regulate breathing or heart rate, would be unable to perform their tasks without white matter. The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language and consciousness. Hydrocephalus can cause a child to have brain / developmental impairment with many lifelong conditions, such as seizures, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays that affect reasoning, memory, speech or other learning and communication abilities.