A 2-year-old Bangladeshi boy has a head that weighs 20 pounds (nine kilograms), about the weight of the entire body of an average 1-year-old-boy. Emon was born through C-section with a head slightly bigger than normal (see photos) due to a condition called hydrocephalus, which is characterized by a buildup of excess fluid inside the brain.
However, two years after he was born, Emon’s skull has increased in size tremendously, to more than three times normal size, the Daily Mail reports. Now his head is so big and heavy that he is unable to move without assistance. Because he is capable only of very limited physical activity, his parents have to attend to him constantly.
Emon, 2-year-old from southern Bangladesh, has a head that weighs 20 lbs... pic.twitter.com/yKN2jnrJm6— Mentality Mag (@MentalityMag) May 25, 2016
Emon’s parents sought help for their son by taking him to several native healers and spiritual consultants who recommended several ineffective treatments although they had no idea what was wrong with him and why his head continued expanding.
They took him finally to see medical doctors, who diagnosed his condition as hydrocephalus — literally “water-brain” — a condition characterized by abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a colorless liquid produced in the brain.
CSF covers the brain and the spine and helps to protect the delicate structures from physical trauma. It also helps to sustain and regulate blood flow that nourishes the brain.
The brain produces new CSF daily but the volume of the fluid is kept constant because excess fluid is regularly absorbed into the blood. Thus, any condition that disrupts the absorption of excess CSF into the blood leads to the rapid buildup of fluid in the brain and to the condition called hydrocephalus.
There are several causes of hydrocephalus. In infants, it can be caused by congenital problems, such as Spina Bifida. It can also be caused by acquired defects, such as head trauma, tumors, cysts, meningitis, or infections suffered by the mother during pregnancy.
The buildup of fluid increases pressure within the skull and causes gradual enlargement of the head in infants less than 2-years-old who have soft and pliable skulls. Adults can also develop hydrocephalus due to the buildup of fluid in the brain. But because the adult skull is not pliable, adult patients do not suffer enlargement of the head due to hydrocephalus.
Emon suffers frm hydrocephalus - Condition leaves him with a huge head & unable to talk, walk or even move his limbs pic.twitter.com/3jLRi7YcSJ— M Barak Cherguia (@CherguiaMbark) May 25, 2016
However, abnormally high pressure within the skull could lead to a myriad of symptoms, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, blurred vision, and convulsion.
If the condition is left untreated in young children as well as in adult patients, it could lead to brain damage and consequently mental disability. This explains why it is important to treat hydrocephalus promptly.
When doctors diagnosed Emon’s condition, they warned his parents that his head would continue expanding and that if left untreated, he could suffer permanent brain damage, mental disability, developmental problems, and health complications due to increasing pressure in his skull as fluid accumulates.
They advised his parents to take him abroad for surgery. But Emon’s parents are too poor to afford to take their son abroad for treatment.
Surgical treatment of hydrocephalus normally involves diverting excess fluid to other parts of the body where it can be absorbed safely into the bloodstream.
Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid on the brain. The excess fluid puts pressure on the brain, which can damage it. pic.twitter.com/TtZUuS9RAU— M Barak Cherguia (@CherguiaMbark) May 25, 2016
But new procedures have been developed to avoid the need to use a shunt that sometimes leads to brain infection. The method, developed by Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin, called “endoscopic third ventriculostomy,” involves creating a small opening in the skull. Surgeons then pass fine tools through the hole to create a bypass for the fluid.
This is not the first time that the media has reported a case of hydrocephalus in an infant.
The Daily Mail reported the case of the Indian baby girl Roona Begum, who was born with hydrocephalus.
Roona’s life was saved through a crowd-funding campaign that allowed surgeons to conduct a series of surgical procedures that removed the excess fluid.
[Image via Shutterstock]