Bleeding around and within the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) is typically caused by the rupture of blood vessels that may have originated during birth. These blood-related issues may include:
- Injuries sustained at birth
- Decreases of delivery of blood or oxygen to the brain which may result in significant illness in the newborn
- A severe issue with blood clotting
Most infants with bleeding will not exhibit external symptoms, whereas others may show outward signs such as being sluggish (lethargic), they may feed poorly, or might even show signs of minor to extreme bodily seizures. There can be many causes of bleeding and it is important to understand that early diagnosis and treatment are critical following delivery.
A swelling of clotted blood within the tissues. Bleeding can occur in several places in and around the brain:
- The most common type of intracranial hemorrhage in newborns, usually occurring in full-term newborns is subarachnoid hemorrhage. This type of bleeding is found below the innermost of the two membranes covering the brain. Infants with subarachnoid hemorrhage may occasionally have apnea (periods when they stop breathing), traumatic bodily seizures, or some form of lethargy during the first 48-72 hours of life but, when recognized, have a low mortality rate.
- Subdural hemorrhage, much less common because of improved childbirth techniques, is bleeding between the outer and the inner layers of the brain covering. Increased pressure on the surface of the brain is a direct result of subdural hemorrhage and newborns with this condition may develop increased problems such as seizures.
- Epidural hematoma, bleeding between outer layers (dura mater) of tissue covering the brain (meninges) and the skull, may be caused by a skull fracture. If the soft spots between skull bones (fontanelles) from an epidural hematoma bulge, this will increase the pressure in the brain. Newborn infants with epidural hematoma may exhibit dramatic episodes of apnea or involuntary seizures.
- Intraventricular hemorrhage is when bleeding fills the normal fluid-filled spaces (ventricles) in the brain.
- Intraparenchymal hemorrhage occurs directly into the brain tissue. Intraventricular hemorrhages and intraparenchymal hemorrhages typically occur in premature newborns usually as a result of an infant’s underdeveloped brain. Though these hemorrhages don’t cause outwardly recognizable symptoms, large hemorrhages may cause apnea or bluish-gray skin discoloration. Additionally, as an extreme reaction to large hemorrhages, the newborn’s entire body may suddenly stop functioning. Newborns diagnosed with large hemorrhages, unfortunately, have a poor prognosis; infants with small hemorrhages when recognized, have a low mortality rate. Newborns with hemorrhages—large or small—may be admitted for monitoring in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), additional supportive care (including warmth), administering of fluids given by vein (intravenously), and additional other vital treatments to maintain body function.
Bleeding in the brain is much more common among very premature infants following delivery. There is also an increased risk of bleeding in the brain by newborns who have bleeding disorders (such as hemophilia). If you are owed compensation for a birth injury or trauma, do not hesitate to call Potter Burnett Law today to handle any case.