Pregnancy, Babies, Parenting News & Tips

Indian Baby with Abnormally Large Head to Receive Treatment

By Vishakha Sonawane / Apr 19, 2013 08:39 AM EDT
  • Runa Begum
  • (Photo : REUTERS/Jayanta Dey) Runa Begum

Runa Begum, an 18-month-old Indian girl suffering from hydrocephalus, a rare condition that causes fluid to build up in the brain,  has been admitted to a hospital in the capital New Delhi and is doing well, according to doctors.

Runa's case drew tremendous media attention as her head is swollen to almost double in size and her parents could not afford her treatment. Her father, an 18-year-old daily wage laborer, barely makes $2.75 a day.

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The publication of her photos by news agency AFP, taken in the remote north-eastern state of Tripura in India, saw many offers of help pouring in including donations and a top hospital in Delhi, Fortis, offering treatment.

Dr Sandeep Vaishya , neurosurgery head at Fortis Helathcare Hospital told AFP,  "Her case is very complex so we are currently considering options of how best to proceed."

In Runa's case, the huge size of her head ,96 cm  (36 inches) in circumference, compared to her tiny body further complicates the matter, according to the doctors.

Hydrocephalus causes babies' and young children's heads to enlarge to accommodate the excess fluid. Older kids, whose skull bones have developed and merged together, often suffer from painful headaches due to increased pressure in the head.

The condition can result in brain damage, a loss in mental and physical abilities, and may also prove fatal in some cases, if not treated. However, if treated in time, children can successfully recover from the condition.

Hydrocephalus is usually treated by inserting a shunt into the affected region and letting the excess liquid drain elsewhere in the body. The procedure is not complex in nature.

The US government's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimated that about one in every 500 children suffers from hydrocephalus.

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