The Long-Term Effects of Intraventricular Hemorrhage in Newborns

The Long-Term Effects of Intraventricular Hemorrhage in Newborns

by / Wednesday, 06 May 2020 / Published in Birth Trauma
Doctor examining MRI scans of the brain

Finding out that your child has any type of birth trauma is very alarming, particularly when it’s an injury that impacts the child’s brain. Brain injuries have the potential to cause a wide range of problems and when they occur in children, they could be facing complications that last for the rest of their life. Intraventricular hemorrhages (IVH) are no exception.

An intraventricular hemorrhage is when bleeding occurs inside the ventricles of a brain or in the tissues that surround the ventricles. When this happens, the extra pressure created by the bleeding can cause damage to nerve cells.

As is the case for many other types of birth trauma, the long-term effects of intraventricular hemorrhage depends on how severe the injury is. Intraventricular hemorrhages are classified by different grades depending on the amount of bleeding involved. A Grade 1 IVH (also known as a germinal matrix hemorrhage or GMH) only involves bleeding that occurs in a small area of ventricles and a Grade 2 IVH involves bleeding inside ventricles. Grade 1 and Grade 2 are the least severe IVH types and very often don’t cause any negative long-term effects. Grade 3 and Grade 4 IVH types are the more severe types. With a Grade 3 IVH, ventricles have become enlarged with blood and a Grade 4 IVH will have bleeding that occurs in other brain tissues around the ventricles.

A Grade 3 or Grade 4 IVH can potentially result in brain injuries that can cause problems like developmental delays, issues controlling movement, and cerebral palsy. In some cases, a blood clot may form which blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in an excess of fluid in the brain. It’s also estimated that up to one-third of babies who experience severe brain bleeding die because of it.

Intraventricular hemorrhage tends to be most common in babies born prematurely, particularly ones born at least 10 weeks premature. Since the blood vessels in a baby’s brain strengthen in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, the more premature a baby is, the more delicate those blood vessels are. IVH rarely occurs in full-term babies, but it can also occur in premature babies who are otherwise healthy at the time of birth. Some other risk factors include high maternal blood pressure, maternal infections, and babies with respiratory problems or blood clotting issues.

Sometimes, it’s not clear exactly why intraventricular hemorrhage occurs and there is little that can be done to prevent them. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean doctors are powerless to prevent an IVH. For example, if an expectant mother is at risk for a premature delivery, her doctor may be able to give corticosteroid medications to help reduce the risk of the baby developing an IVH. IVH can also be the result of head trauma that occurs during or shortly after birth. Most typically, IVH occurs within the first few days of a child’s life and very rarely after a child is a month old.

If your child experienced an intraventricular hemorrhage and is facing serious, long-term effects as a result, one of the best things you can do is get in touch with a birth trauma lawyer. Birth injury cases can be very complicated and a lawyer will be able to help answer all of your questions and work with you to understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in helping Michigan birth trauma victims. Even if your child is a few years old, we may still be able to help you. Contact us today to get started.

Image: iStock / Chinnapong

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