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Intraventricular hemorrhage

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is a potentially serious condition involving bleeding in the brain's fluid-filled areas. IVH often occurs during childbirth in premature babies. In severe cases, the condition can cause permanent brain damage. Sometimes, IVH is caused by health care providers who fail to monitor and manage risks. If you suspect your child’s IVH could have been avoided, you may be entitled to financial support for lifelong care.

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About 7 birth injuries occur for every 1,000 children born in the United States. Was your child one of them?

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What is intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns?

A wooden gavel and block rest on a series of MRI brain scan images. Intraventricular hemorrhage happens when there is bleeding inside or around the ventricles in a newborn's brain. Ventricles are the spaces that contain cerebrospinal fluid, which protects and cushions the brain.

Nearly all intraventricular hemorrhage newborn cases arise within the first three days of life.

IVH is categorized into 4 grades by how the bleeding occurs:

  • Grade 1: Limited to a small area near the ventricles
  • Grade 2: Accumulates within the ventricles
  • Grade 3: Causes the ventricles to swell (ventricular dilation)
  • Grade 4: Extends into the surrounding brain tissue

Intraventricular hemorrhage is especially common in premature infants. This is because blood vessels in a baby's brain are delicate and can break easily. The smaller and more premature the baby, the higher the risk.

Additionally, intraventricular hemorrhage can be linked to medical negligence when medical teams fail to adequately monitor and respond to risk factors or signs of fetal distress during labor and delivery.

If your child developed IVH that could have been prevented, you may have legal options.

Cerebral Palsy Guide partners with top birth injury lawyers across the country who can help families in all 50 states. Together, they have recovered over $905 million for preventable birth injuries, including intraventricular hemorrhage.

Get a free case review right now to find out if we can connect you with a top attorney near you.

Need help with your child’s birth injury?

Get help paying for your child’s treatment.

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Complications from intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns

Proper and swift care can reduce the risk of IVH progressing to severe stages. However, complications from intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns can cause lifelong damage.

Potential complications from newborn intraventricular hemorrhage include:
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy (conditions affecting muscle control and movement)
  • Developmental delays
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hydrocephalus (fluid buildup in the brain)
  • Long-term neurological impairments
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (damage to the brain’s white matter)
  • Seizures
  • Visual and hearing impairments

Tragically, newborn death can occur in severe cases or when babies do not get the proper treatment.

If your child suffered from complications due to intraventricular hemorrhage, you may be eligible to pursue financial compensation through a birth injury settlement.

A successful birth injury lawsuit can help ensure you have the financial resources you need to provide top-quality care to your child.

Call us right now at (855) 220-1101 or Click to Live Chat to see if you may be eligible.

Causes of intraventricular hemorrhage in infants

The exact cause of intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns isn’t always clear, but premature birth is a major risk factor.

Additionally, issues during delivery, health conditions in the mother, and complications after birth can contribute. Understanding these causes can help prevent and manage IVH.

Here are several known causes of intraventricular hemorrhage:
  • Delivery complications: Prolonged labor, improper use of delivery tools, and breech births (buttocks or feet first) can lead to trauma that causes IVH.
  • Maternal health conditions: Untreated high blood pressure, infections, or placental issues can lead to IVH by causing oxygen deprivation or blood pressure changes.
  • Misusing assisted delivery tools: Using excessive force with vacuum extractors or forceps delivery in prolonged labor can cause brain injury.
  • Post-delivery complications: Conditions like respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or rapid blood pressure changes can increase the risk of IVH.
  • Premature birth: The brain's blood vessels are delicate and more likely to rupture in premature infants.

If your baby was harmed after an intraventricular hemorrhage during childbirth, you probably have unanswered questions.

We have registered nurses on staff who can help. They are here to talk to you in confidence about what could have caused your baby to develop IVH.

Connect with an experienced labor and delivery nurse right now.

Risk factors of intraventricular hemorrhage

Various risk factors can increase the chances of intraventricular hemorrhage happening. Health care providers should watch the mother and baby to identify and promptly respond to any signs of fetal or maternal distress.

Intraventricular hemorrhage risk factors include:
  • Advanced maternal age (35 years or older)
  • Alcohol and recreational drug use during pregnancy
  • Genetic factors and family history
  • Low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds)
  • Maternal health conditions like high blood pressure, anemia, and infections
  • Premature birth (before 32 weeks gestation or fetal development)
  • Rapid blood pressure changes in the mother or baby
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)

If intraventricular hemorrhage happens, your baby will be sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There, doctors and nurses should actively monitor your baby’s health, especially if they were born preterm.

Symptoms of intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns

Intraventricular hemorrhage may not always be immediate or obvious during childbirth. However, there are birth injury symptoms that health care providers should look for that could signal IVH.

The most common symptoms of intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns include:
  • Decreased reflexes and muscle tone
  • High-pitched cry
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness) and excessive sleeping
  • Pale or blue skin coloring (cyanosis)
  • Prolonged breathing pauses (apnea)
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Swollen fontanelles (soft spots between bones of the head)
  • Unexplained bleeding, like from the nose or ears
  • Weak suck during feeding (poor oral muscle tone)

Additionally, ultrasound images may show ventricular dilation, intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), blood clots, or malformations in the baby’s brain tissue.

Can you prevent intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns?

Intraventricular hemorrhage newborn cases are medical emergencies that cannot always be prevented. However, delivery teams should take all the necessary precautions to minimize the risks.

These are measures delivery teams can take to help prevent IVH:

  • Addressing any maternal health issues promptly during pregnancy
  • Exercising proper caution with delivery tools to prevent harm to the baby
  • Providing regular prenatal care to oversee both the mother's and baby's health

Taking immediate action if the baby displays signs of distress during delivery, possibly by performing a cesarean section (C-section), is also crucial.

If your child experienced intraventricular hemorrhage that could have been avoided, you may be able to take legal action through a birth injury lawsuit.

Nothing can ever reverse the harm that your baby endured. However, holding negligent medical professionals accountable can help you find peace of mind and prevent other families from having to deal with a birth injury.

How is intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns diagnosed?

Diagnosing intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns involves tests to check for bleeding inside the brain. These tests help doctors find problems and take the proper steps to help the baby.

Intraventricular hemorrhage occurs in approximately 15-20% of premature babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors often use a special kind of ultrasound called a cranial ultrasound to examine the baby's brain. This test uses sound waves to make pictures of the brain and can show if there's any bleeding in the ventricles.

Sometimes, doctors may need more detailed pictures and will suggest a CT scan of the baby’s head. This helps them see more clearly and understand what's happening in the baby's brain.

Using these tests helps doctors find IVH early, so they can give the right care to newborns who need it. Early diagnosis means treatment can begin sooner, giving babies the best chance for a healthy start.

Treatment for intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns

Treatment for intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns focuses on managing symptoms and preventing further complications. It also aims to control the amount of bleeding in the newborn’s brain.

“Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment for IVH, except to treat any other health problems that may worsen the condition.”

— Boston Children’s Hospital

While there is no direct treatment to stop the bleeding in the brain, health care providers may administer supportive care to relieve pressure in the baby’s brain.

These are several IVH treatment methods:
  • Blood transfusions to improve the baby’s blood pressure and blood count
  • Inserting a shunt (tube) in the brain to drain excess or seeping cerebral spinal fluid
  • Medications like corticosteroids to manage respiratory issues
  • Physical therapy to address developmental or motor delays

In severe cases, surgery might be needed to relieve brain pressure due to excessive bleeding. Also, doctors might use therapeutic hypothermia, a method where they cool the baby's body, to safeguard the brain from more harm.

The treatment plan depends on how severe the IVH is and if there are other problems, all aimed at reducing long-term brain issues and supporting the baby's health.

Get legal help for intraventricular hemorrhage

When IVH causes unexpected harm and medical expenses, many families feel overwhelmed and unprepared. Thankfully, there are options to help parents pay for treatment costs and other expenses related to intraventricular hemorrhage.

Financial assistance may be available to ease any burdens placed on your family, so you can focus on getting quality care for your child.

Cerebral Palsy Guide partners with top birth injury lawyers who can help families in all 50 states. Together, they have recovered over $905 million for those affected by preventable birth injuries.

If you suspect your child’s IVH could have been avoided, you may have a direct pathway to accessing the financial support your family needs and deserves.

Call our trained patient advocates at (855) 220-1101 or get a free case review right now.

Intraventricular hemorrhage FAQs

What causes intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns?

IVH is caused by ruptured blood vessels in the germinal matrix, a fragile tissue located near the ventricles of the brain. This rupture can occur because of a premature birth, low birth weight, fluctuations in blood pressure, and oxygen levels during delivery.

Sometimes, intraventricular hemorrhage newborn cases arise due to medical errors made by negligent delivery teams. When this happens, families can be left to face severe financial and emotional consequences through no fault of their own.

Call (855) 220-1101 right now if your baby suffered from IVH during childbirth. We may be able to help you access the money you need for care.

What is the survival rate for intraventricular hemorrhage?

The survival rate for IVH depends on the severity of the bleeding, the age of the baby, and the presence of any underlying health conditions.

While some infants may fully recover from intraventricular hemorrhage, others may experience long-term complications or disabilities.

Can a newborn recover from a brain bleed?

Recovery from a brain bleed depends on the extent of the bleeding and the promptness and effectiveness of medical intervention.

While some infants may recover completely with treatment and rehabilitation, others may experience lasting neurological deficits or disabilities.

When can you sue for IVH?

You may be able to sue for intraventricular hemorrhage if it results from medical malpractice. Your legal team will have to prove that medical negligence led to IVH or worsened its outcome.

Keep in mind that there are strict deadlines for filing birth injury lawsuits, which vary by state. If you miss your window, you will be forever prevented from taking legal action. An experienced birth injury attorney can help you understand what deadline applies to your case.

Cerebral Palsy Guide partners with birth injury lawyers who have helped families across the country secure over $905 million in birth injury compensation.

Get a free case review right now to find out if we can connect you with a top birth injury law firm near you.

Reviewed by:Katie Lavender, RN

Registered Nurse

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Katie Lavender has over 8 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in postpartum mother/baby care. With hands-on experience in Labor and Delivery and a role as a Community Educator for newborn care, Katie is a staunch advocate for patient rights and education. As a Medical Reviewer, she is committed to ensuring accurate and trustworthy patient information.

Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness

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  7. Szpecht, D., et al. (2016, July 8). The incidence of severe intraventricular hemorrhage based on retrospective analysis of 35939 full-term newborns-report of two cases and review of literature. Child's nervous system. Official Journal of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, 32(12), 2447–2451. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-016-3164-5