Diffuse changes in the brain in a child

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 09.06.2022

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Diffuse changes in the brain that affect its bioelectrical conductivity can be detected at any age. However, the causes that cause them may differ slightly.

For example, diffuse changes in the brain in newborns are usually associated with processes that occur even before the birth of a child or at the time of childbirth. These can be intoxications (including alcohol abuse, smoking, drug addiction), infections, stress factors, radioactive radiation that affect the mother's body during the formation of the fetal nervous system. The risk of giving birth to a child with brain pathologies also increases in those mothers who experienced severe changes in blood pressure and temperature during pregnancy, who had placental abruption with impaired nutrition and breathing of the fetus, had a protracted birth or entanglement of the child with the umbilical cord.

Trauma to the fetus during pregnancy or childbirth is also considered a risk factor for the appearance of diffuse changes in the brain of the child. A traumatic factor can affect the brain in subsequent periods of a baby's life. The nervous structures of the fetus are formed even before its birth (already at 5-6 months the cerebral cortex acquires its characteristic convolutions), but the formation of the central nervous system continues until the age of 16-17, so concussions in childhood and adolescence have more serious consequences than in adulthood.

The same can be said about the infectious factor, which is most dangerous during critical periods of the formation of the central nervous system, which occur in childhood. Infections of the nasopharynx in children quite often pass to the brain, causing inflammation of the meninges and medulla, accompanied by swelling of the tissues, as a result of which their bioelectrical conductivity is disturbed. With prolonged exposure to infection, toxic damage to nerve cells (neurons that make up the brain parenchyma and are responsible for the transmission of impulses) and their death occurs, which necessarily affects the further neuropsychic development of the child, causing various deviations in the process of formation of higher mental functions.

In childhood, the child's brain is most sensitive to the impact of negative factors, both external and internal. Therefore, diseases that are quite safe for an adult can cause brain damage in a child, especially if there is a hereditary factor (for example, some relatives of the child suffer from cerebrovascular disorders).

Considering such a neurological disease as epilepsy, scientists came to the conclusion that in the absence of organic brain lesions, the disease is most likely provoked by genetic factors that are inherited. In this case, diffuse or local changes in the brain, characteristic of acquired epilepsy, will not be detected, but there is an increased excitability of brain neurons (BEA dysfunction).

Acquired epilepsy, which is caused by congenital metabolic disorders, malformations of the brain, skull trauma, hypoxia and its consequences in the form of ischemia of the medulla, is characterized by changes in the structure of the medulla, determined using ultrasound (in early childhood, neurosonography) and tomography, and also violations of BEA on the encephalogram.

Diffuse brain changes in children can be both temporary and permanent. Inflammatory processes in the brain and its membranes can cause a temporary change in the structure and conductivity of the nervous tissue. But at the same time, it is important to understand that the longer the tissue edema continues, the higher the risk of fibrotic changes that will cause persistent conduction disorders and a decrease in intelligence.

The risk of developing such complications in meningitis and encephalitis is higher at an early age. And not only because this is the period most sensitive to negative impacts. But also due to the fact that a small child is not yet able to adequately assess his condition, talk about his well-being, say what worries him. A child who cannot speak or does not understand the meaning of the word pain cannot tell others that he has a headache, and parents can attribute repeated dizziness and falls to the baby’s fragile legs. The child begins to act up and cry, thus expressing his condition, but his "language" is not entirely clear to adults.

For this reason, it is very important for parents to closely monitor the activity of their baby. If a child has become overly active or, conversely, has lost interest in games and the world around him, this is already a reason to seek advice from a doctor. Frequent "unreasonable" tears are also an alarm, especially if the child previously had a calm disposition and was not prone to whims.

It is clear that new toys or people, unfamiliar events, acquaintance with new phenomena of the surrounding world can cause excitement in a baby, but this is a temporary phenomenon. The same can be said about some inhibition, which can be caused by a large flow of information, overwork, somatic illness. But if this condition persists for a few days in a baby, this can hardly be called the norm. Children of early age (up to three years) are characterized by high cognitive activity (they feel everything, sniff, knock, examine), and its decrease is regarded as a pathological symptom.

At an older age, the main (leading) activity of the child is the game. If a preschooler has lost interest in toys and games with adults and peers, this should definitely be paid attention to. Complaints about headaches in this situation should not be regarded as an attempt to refuse to fulfill the request or demand of an adult. It is quite possible that the child really has a headache due to the appearance of diffuse changes in the brain that affect his well-being, performance, physical and mental activity. [1]

At school age, poor academic performance (or its sharp decline), increased fatigue, gradual loss of previously acquired skills and difficulties in forming new ones, speech disorders, movement disorders, and inappropriate behavior can be considered suspicious symptoms.

In adolescence, you should pay attention to frequent migraines, fluctuations in body temperature (they may indicate dysfunction of the median structures of the brain), pathological desires (especially of a sexual nature), lack of elementary modesty, inappropriate behavior. Similar deviations during this period of development of the child can be noted in healthy children, but their persistence should suggest reflection. It is better to play it safe once again than to harm the child with your carelessness, missing the opportunity to correct the defect.

But before diagnosing a child, one must understand that in the process of ontogenesis there are age-related changes in the bioelectrical activity of the brain, which is also important to take into account during the examination.

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