Childhood obesity may lead to a rare form of neurological disorder known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) that can cause blindness, says a new study.

Overweight or obese Non-Hispanic older girls are particularly vulnerable to this disorder.

"Childhood obesity has again been shown to be associated with a serious disease. 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," said Dr. Sonu Brara of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Neurology Department and lead author of the study.

The study was based on a large cross-sectional study of some 900,000 children aged 2-19. The disorder, idiopathic intracranial hypertension was found in 78 cases. 85 percent of the children diagnosed with it were girls aged 11 to 19 and 73 percent were overweight or obese.

Intracranial Hypertension occurs when the pressure cerebrospinal fluid in the brain is too high. Symptoms of IH are vision loss, whooshing sound in the ears or severe headache. These symptoms are common and it does not mean anybody who has these symptoms will also have IH. Sometimes a person having IH may not have any problems with vision. Obesity is often linked with IH but is not the only factor. Physicians recommend weight reduction in people diagnosed with IH. Weight loss is known to reduce the symptoms of IIH in some but not all cases. The disorder was earlier known as "false brain tumor".

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, says that 12.5 million children and teens are affected by obesity which is nearly 17 percent of all children in U.S. According to the agency, children now are getting heavier than ever. In the past few years childhood obesity has almost has tripled.

Childhood obesity is known to bring in complications like glucose intolerance, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Whether childhood obesity affects cognitive function is still controversial. Some studies say that high BMI levels negatively affect academic performance.

"Our findings may help improve the early diagnosis and treatment of IIH in young patients. Overweight and obese children appear to have more IIH symptoms at onset than normal weight children. We suggest that clinicians carefully screen adolescents who are overweight or obese and present with symptoms of IIH, such as headache, blurred vision, and eye movement abnormalities,” said Dr. Brara.

Another study published earlier this year had shown that overweight or obese children were more likely to suffer from asthma. The researchers, Mary Helen Black and colleagues, said that increasing BMI in children with asthma was associated with higher intake of corticosteroids and emergency department visits.

The study is published in The Journal of Pediatrics.