Friday 19 April 2013

The Heartbreaking Story of the 18-Month-Old Hydrocephalus Indian Baby

Her name is Roona Begum and she was born 18 months ago in rural India. She suffers from a condition called hydrocephalus (also called water on the brain although not a totally correct description). This is a condition in which there is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inside the skull. If this continues, she can have irreversible brain damage. The condition can be corrected surgically but her father, 26-year-old Mr. Rahman, a labourer who earns just £1.79 (that’s about N430 naira like many Nigerians earn per day) after a day of back-breaking work in a brick factory, is just too poor to foot the bills for the surgery.

In order to avoid the child from becoming permanently disabled, prompt surgical attention is required but for now all Begum’s family can do is to make her as comfortable as possible and watch her worsen and deteriorate with every passing day. He cannot pay for a doctor. The operation to correct little Roona’s case lasts for about 30 minutes and needs a paediatric surgeon. For a brick factory labourer in rural India, paying for such a procedure is a 
heartbreaking impossibility.
The brain produces about a pint of fluid every 24 hours which is normally reabsorbed into the blood vessels but with her, the circulation has been interrupted, hence the accumulation and swelling. The pressure on the brain causes headaches, blurring of vision and as hinted earlier, a permanent brain damage. Other symptoms include epileptic seizures, convulsions, sleepiness, vomitting, difficulty in feeding, trouble with walking (muscle coordination and balance), crossed eye and many others. Babies often die without treatment or become severely retarded mentally.
Now we get to the important part for pregnant women: hydrocephalus  is not fully understood and has many causes and for many like congenital birth defects and genetic anomalies, there is practically nothing you can do to prevent it. It is not a preventable condition. However, there are steps that you can take as a pregnant woman to lessen the effects of the risk factors, and these include:
-Going for your prenatal (or antenatal, if that’s what you call it) care. Do not joke with it biko. Follow all your doctor’s recommendation and checkups. These can help reduce your risk of a premature labour significantly. Premature babies stand a higher risk of developing not only hydrocephalus but also other complications.  
-Infections have been linked with hydrocephalus so make sure that you protect yourself against infectious illnesses. Again, it boils down to your prenatal visits. Your doctor will check you regularly for infectious diseases. 
-Before you get pregnant, ensure that your diet is rich in folates (folic acid) which help in reducing the risk of your child developing neural tube defects, some of which come with hydrocephalus. And seriously, you don’t need to break a bank before you can get your folic acid which is plentiful in leafy vegetables (especially lettuce and spinach). E never finish o, you can also get your good dose of folic acid from liver, kidney, egg yolk, legumes (peas, lentils, dried or fresh beans), sunflower seeds and fortified cereals (read package well o!). The following also contain moderate amount of folic acid: fresh juices of oranges, tomatoes, vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pineapples and grapes, bananas, strawberries and grapefruits. You can get from other food items but I believe these ones are readily available in Nigerian markets.
That said, one can also develop hydrocephalus AFTER birth as a result of traumatic injuries, infections and the rest. So, always ensure that your kids are properly belted up while in the vehicle and give them adequate treatment when they get infections (meningitis can be particularly dangerous and you need to ask your doctor if your child needs a vaccine or immune booster if a teenager) and let them wear helmets while riding bicycles, skateboards and stuffs like that.
Thanks for your time.
CREDITS: Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health Publications (Harvard Medical School) and DailyMailUK. 


  1. Oh GOD OF MERCY & HEALING!!! the one & only thing i ask for right now is to MIRACULOUSLY put this child's head back to normal, pls have mercy on all our sins, do not allow your child to suffer this, its so unbearable for an adult, how much more for a kid of 18months. oh GOD, pease HAVE MERCY!!!

  2. God be with this child & her family <3