Measuring his eight-month-old baby, Anushka’s enlarging head every day had become Amol Pawashe’s daily routine for the past six months. “Anushka’s head was growing bigger every day. When it became as big as a watermelon we were told to bring her to Mumbai for treatment but we had no money to even travel,” said the snack vendor from Dapoli.
After borrowing money from his relatives, when Pawashe got his daughter Anushka admitted to KEM Hospital on Monday, the circumference of her head measured 67cm. For a child of her age, the normal head circumference is about 38 to 39cm, said doctors.
“The child had suffered from meningitis when she was a month old. This led to blocking of the pathways of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in her brain. The fluid was not getting drained and the accumulation led to the enlargement of the head,” said Dr Atul Goel, head of neurosurgery department, KEM Hospital.
Cerebrospinal fluid is a protective nourishing fluid in the brain and spinal cord. “The patient was earlier treated for meningitis and the family was asked to bring her for regular follow-ups but they didn’t,” said Dr Goel.
Doctors said that Anushka’s brain was compressed and reduced in size due to the increased fluid content. Her eyes were affected and pupils had started sinking due to the pressure on the part of the brain, which regulates the movement of eyeballs.
On Tuesday, Anushka underwent an operation to drain the excess fluid accumulated in her head. “A tube was inserted to drain the cerebrospinal fluid in to the abdomen, from where it will get absorbed in the blood,” said Dr Sandip Mavani, neurosurgeon, KEM Hospital. It will take several months for her head to regain its normal shape and size, said doctors.
“The brain has a magical plasticity and in few children, the brain can regain its normal size. Though it is unlikely, it is possible that she could lead a normal life,’ said Dr Goel. “Any abnormality in the size of a child’s head should be shown to a doctor. Ignorance can lead to irreversible brain damage.”