Congenital hydrocephalus--prevalence, prenatal diagnosis and outcome of pregnancy in four European regions.

Research paper by Ester E Garne, Maria M Loane, Marie-Claude MC Addor, Patricia A PA Boyd, Ingeborg I Barisic, Helen H Dolk

Indexed on: 05 May '09Published on: 05 May '09Published in: European Journal of Paediatric Neurology


To describe prevalence, prenatal diagnosis and outcome for fetuses and infants with congenital hydrocephalus.Data were taken from four European registries of congenital malformations (EUROCAT). The registries included are based on multiple sources of information and include information about livebirths, fetal deaths with GA > or = 20 weeks and terminations of pregnancy for fetal anomaly (TOPFA). All cases from the four registries diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus and born in the period 1996-2003 were included in the study. Cases with hydrocephalus associated with neural tube defects were not included in the study.Eighty-seven cases with congenital hydrocephalus were identified during the study period giving an overall prevalence of 4.65 per 10,000 births. There were 41 livebirths (47%), four fetal deaths (5%) and 42 TOPFA (48%). Nine percent of all cases were from a multiple pregnancy. Additional non-cerebral major malformations were diagnosed in 38 cases (44%) and karyotype anomalies in eight cases (9%). Median GA at TOPFA was 21 weeks. Among livebirths 61% were diagnosed prenatally at a median GA of 31 weeks (range 17-40 weeks) and median GA at birth was 37 weeks. Fourteen liveborn infants (34%) died within the first year of life with the majority of deaths during the first week after birth.Congenital hydrocephalus is a severe congenital malformation often associated with other congenital anomalies. CH is often diagnosed prenatally, although sometimes late in pregnancy. A high proportion of affected pregnancies result in termination for severe fetal anomaly and there is a high mortality in livebirths.