Fetal Ventriculomegaly


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Fetal ventriculomegaly is the widening of the fluid-filled spaces of the brain. These are called the ventricles. It happens in babies before they are born.


It may be caused by problems with how the brain grows. It may also be caused by the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. It should move smoothly. If its flow is slowed or stopped, it can put pressure on the ventricles and make them get bigger.

Risk Factors

Health problems that may raise your child’s risk are:

  • Brain cysts
  • Spina bifida
  • Bleeding within the brain
  • A rare birth defect called agenesis of the corpus callosum

Certain infections of the pregnant mother can raise the risk. These are:

  • Cytomegalovirus —an infection caused by a type of herpes virus
  • Toxoplasmosis —an infection linked to cat stool or infected food
  • Syphilis —a sexually transmitted infection
  • Chickenpox
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis—a virus spread by mice (rare)


After birth, your child may have:

  • Rapid head growth
  • Bulging soft spot
  • Protruding scalp veins
  • Problems with eye movement
  • Delays in development
  • Problems feeding
  • Vomiting
  • Fussiness or sleepiness


This health problem is often found during a ultrasound before the baby is born. Further testing may be done by specialists and after birth.

Before birth, the baby’s health may be checked with:

Abdominal Ultrasound

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Talk with your doctor about the best plan for your child.


More ultrasounds may be done to check the baby’s health. Sometimes this health problem gets better on its own.

Draining the Fluid

If the problem gets worse, other methods will be needed to drain the fluid. This can be done by placing a ventriculoperitoneal shunt after your child is born.


This health problem can’t be prevented.


American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Women’s Health—US Department of Health and Human Services


The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


Craig A, Lober R, et al. Complex fetal care: Implications of fetal ventriculomegaly: a neurosurgical perspective. NeoReviews. 2015;16;e254. Available at:
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Accessed June 28, 2018.
Hydrocephalus in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated January 15, 2018. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Pediatric Ventriculomegaly. Children’s National Health System website. Available at:
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Accessed June 28, 2018.
Ventriculomegaly and hydrocephaly. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital website. Available at:
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Accessed June 28, 2018.
Ventriculomegaly in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
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Published 2012. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 6/28/2018

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