The risk of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) — also calledpseudotumor cerebri — is especially high in older white girls, according to the Kaiser Permanente researchers.
People with the condition have increased pressure around the brain that is not caused by other diseases. Symptoms include headache, blurred vision, nausea and eye movement abnormalities. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension can lead to blindness in up to 10 percent of patients, particularly if not diagnosed and treated promptly.
The researchers analyzed data from 900,000 children, aged 2 to 19, and identified 78 cases of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Eighty-five percent of the patients with the condition were girls aged 11 to 19, nearly half were white and 73 percent were overweight or obese.
Compared to normal weight children, the risk was 16 times higher in extremely obese children, six times higher in moderately obese children and 3.5 times higher in overweight children.
The study is published May 24 in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“Childhood obesity has again been shown to be associated with a serious disease,” study author Dr. Sonu Brara, of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Neurology Department, said in a Kaiser news release.
“This research is the strongest evidence to date that obesity is associated with IIH in children — it also suggests that the childhood obesity epidemic is likely to lead to increased morbidity from IIH, including blindness,” Brara added.