Hydrocephalus is not a preventable condition. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of hydrocephalus:
- If you’re pregnant, get regular prenatal care. Following your doctor’s recommended schedule for checkups during pregnancy can reduce your risk of premature labor, which places your baby at risk of hydrocephalus and other complications. (also see Can Spina Bifida be prevented? for food suggestions)
- Protect against infectious illness. Follow the recommended vaccination and screening schedules for your age and sex. Preventing and promptly treating the infections and other illnesses associated with hydrocephalus may reduce your risk.
To prevent head injury:
- Use appropriate safety equipment. For babies and children, use a properly installed, age- and size-appropriate child safety seat on all car trips. Make sure all your baby equipment — crib, stroller, swing, highchair — meets all safety standards and is properly adjusted for your baby’s size and development. Children and adults should wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, skateboard, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
- Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle. Small children should be secured in child safety seats or booster seats. Depending on their size, older children may be adequately restrained with seat belts.
Should you be vaccinated against meningitis? Ask your doctor if you or your child should receive a vaccine against meningitis, once a common cause of hydrocephalus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends meningitis vaccination for preteen children and boosters for teenagers. It’s also recommended for younger children and adults who may be at increased risk of meningitis for any of the following reasons:
- Living in or traveling to countries where meningitis is common
- Having an immune system disorder called terminal complement deficiency
- Having a damaged spleen or having had the spleen removed
- Living in a college dormitory
- Joining the military
(Source: International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus in Brussels, Belgium)