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Infant hydrocephalus, seasonal and linked to farm animals in Uganda
Date:1/2/2011

Hydrocephalus in Ugandan children and other developing countries is seasonal, linked to farm animals and in part, caused by previous bacterial infection, according to an international team of researchers from Uganda and the United States, who believe that the best approach to this problem is prevention.

"Hydrocephalus in infants in developing countries is a grand medical mystery," said Steven Schiff, the Brush Chair professor of engineering and director, Penn State Center for Neural Engineering.

Hydrocephalus is a build up of the fluid that normally surrounds the brain. The increased pressure causes the head to swell and damages brain tissue. Treatment includes placing a shunt to drain the fluid, but inevitably these shunts become plugged and require emergency care, not always available in rural Africa and other resource-limited regions of the developing world. Surgeons vigorously explore the use of new brain endoscopes to divert fluid buildup internally in such children, but this approach addresses the fluid and does not fix previous infection damage to the brain.

"Brains of children with hydrocephalus can be completely or mostly destroyed either by the scarring from the disease or by the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid that cannot escape," said Schiff. "Many of these children with the worst aftereffects of infection will be mentally deficient and survive only as long as their mothers can adequately care for them. Understanding the causes could eliminate or prevent the enormous costs to lives and families that hydrocephalus brings."

Hydrocephalus in infants in sub-Saharan Africa is thought to be caused most often by meningitis-type infections during the first month of life. The U.S. and Ugandan researchers looked at the fluid from the brains of three sets of 25 consecutive infant hydrocephalus patients during January, July and October to try to determine the cause of the disease. By the time parents bring infants with rapidly growing
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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