A rupture of blood vessels causes brain bleeds in babies at birth. This rupture can be the result of a serious illness, a blood clotting problem, or a birth injury caused by pressure on your baby’s skull. Your child’s brain bleed might be the result of forceps or vacuum extractors used during delivery, your baby becoming stuck in the birth canal, or another type of injury sustained during labor and delivery.
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Premature Babies Are More Susceptible to Brain Bleeds
Babies who are born prematurely are at a greater risk of suffering from a brain bleed than full-term babies. Premature newborns often have complex medical issues that can result in problems with their developing brains.
The earlier a baby is born, the greater their risk of having a brain bleed. These brain bleeds are known as intraventricular hemorrhages. Some newborns will have a very mild intraventricular hemorrhage which will resolve with no long-term effects. This is known as a Grade 1 or Grade 2 hemorrhage.
Some newborns will suffer from larger brain bleeds—Grade 3 or Grade 4—that can cause permanent brain injury. Your physician should take steps to monitor your pregnancy and avoid premature delivery if at all possible.
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How a Doctor Determines a Brain Bleed Is Present
You or your doctor might suspect your newborn suffering from a brain bleed if you notice certain symptoms in your child. Those symptoms can include excessive sleepiness, apnea, the onset of seizures, and a bluish-gray discoloration of your baby’s skin. When you notice these symptoms, you deserve an accurate diagnosis and to understand what caused the brain to bleed in your baby at birth.
To find out for certain if a brain bleed is the cause of your baby’s symptoms, your doctor or another medical specialist will conduct tests to reach a conclusive diagnosis. Testing on your baby will include imaging exams like an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of your baby’s brain and a CT scan (computerized tomography scan) that uses a series of X-ray images and computer images to create detailed, cross-sectioned images of your baby’s brain.
How Apnea Can Affect Your Newborn
When most people hear the term apnea, they automatically think of sleep apnea where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during the sleep cycle. According to Johns Hopkins, apnea is a condition that often occurs in newborns and causes temporary pauses in breathing. Premature newborns are more likely to suffer from apnea than full-term babies.
Apnea is caused by an immaturity of your newborn’s brain and a weakness in the muscles that keep your baby’s airway open. In some cases, added stresses like infections, heart or lung conditions, low blood count and oxygen levels, and overstimulation can cause apnea to worsen.
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Several Types of Brain Bleeds Exist
Premature infants are highly susceptible to a type of brain bleed called intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding into the fluid-filled ventricles in your baby’s brain). Although unusual, full-term babies might also suffer from this type of brain bleed. Additional types of brain bleed in babies at birth include:
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage – bleeding below the innermost membrane that covers your newborn’s brain
- Subdural hemorrhage – bleeding between the outer and inner layers of the covering of your newborn’s brain
- Epidural hematoma – bleeding between the outer layer of tissue covering your baby’s brain and skull
The medical team who reaches the final diagnosis of your child’s condition will be able to tell you the exact type of brain bleed your infant has and its cause. They will also be able to help you determine the grade and the effects the brain bleed may have on your baby.
Recovering Compensation for a Brain Bleed
If your son or daughter was born with a brain bleed, you may qualify to file an insurance claim or lawsuit that will help you hold the right person or entity responsible for the role they played in your child’s birth injury and brain bleed. Your pediatrician or another medical professional can also help you understand what causes brain bleeds in babies at birth. Your attorney can help you understand the legal options you have available to help recoup the cost of your child’s medical care.
When you are ready to assign liability, file an insurance claim or lawsuit, and ensure your child receives the medical care their condition requires, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to schedule a free consultation.