The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in a child’s brain leads to the formation of pediatric brain tumours. As there is limited space inside the skull, the tumour puts pressure on various parts of the brain itself. This pressure can affect the functioning of the brain and, in turn, the body. Brain tumours in children can be both malignant (cancerous) and benign (noncancerous).
If the tumour is discovered at an early stage, it is usually treatable. Slow-growing tumours are treated with surgery alone while in the case of fast-growing tumours, additional treatment like chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also be needed.
On this World Brain Tumour Day, let’s discuss the early signs of brain tumours in children:
1. Headaches and nausea
Headaches and vomiting are common in children and are two signs of many conditions. However, in rare cases, they may occur due to the increasing pressure in the brain caused by tumours. If these symptoms persist, you should seek medical help. The children who do have a brain tumour may experience headaches that are more severe in the morning as the pressure in the brain increases when a person is lying down and a tumour can make it worse.
2. Personality change
Though personality changes are a normal part of growing up and maturing, if you observe sudden or severe personality changes or mood swings in your child, it may be due to a brain tumour that is affecting the cerebral cortex. In this case, you should discuss it with your paediatrician.
Another general symptom of a brain tumour is fatigue. If your child is always sleepy and lethargic for no reason, you should consult a paediatrician to find out if this is happening because of an underlying condition.
4. Balance problems
If your child is having a hard time keeping their balance; it can be due to the growth of tumours near the stem cells. Consult a paediatrician if this issue becomes severe or consistent.
5. Changes in speech, hearing or vision
If your child suddenly starts showing/observing changes in vision, hearing or speech, it is best to talk to a doctor about it. These symptoms can occur due to the effect of the brain tumour on several areas of the brain.
6. Change is head size
The skull bones of young babies are malleable as they haven’t grown together or fused yet. Thus, it allows space for a brain tumour to grow, and the tumour can make the head grow in abnormal ways. If you observe bulging or other abnormal changes in your baby’s head shape, you should consult your doctor and ask if further evaluation is needed.
It is always best to get immediate help if your child is experiencing seizures. A brain tumour can also cause seizures and many simple actions like laughing can trigger one.
This article was written by Dr Praveen Gupta, Director & HOD, Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurugram.
For more information, read our article on Brain Tumour.
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