The epidemiology of infantile hydrocephalus in the birth years 1973-90 was investigated in west Sweden. The study revealed a significant increase in prevalence from 1973-8 and 1979-82 considered due to the enhanced survival of very and extremely preterm infants. The increase did not continue from 1983-90. This could indicate an improved outcome in preterm survivors as the neonatal survival rate continued to increase. The striking predominance of a perinatal/neonatal aetiology in very preterm hydrocephalic infants could be confirmed: 89% born from 1983-90 had suffered a confirmed postpartum intraventricular haemorrhage. In infants born at term, prenatal origins, mainly maldevelopments, dominated. The outcome in very preterm surviving infants with infantile hydrocephalus was poor: 73% had cerebral palsy, 52% epilepsy, 22% severe visual disability, and 55% were mentally retarded. Despite the increased survival resulting in a majority of healthy infants, there is an accumulating cohort of hydrocephalic children.
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