Pennsylvania Birth Injury Attorneys
You might have come across the term “brain bleeding” in your life. This is also known as intracranial hemorrhaging, and it’s a type of bleeding that occurs in the skull.
Unfortunately, it is a type of hemorrhaging that often occurs in newborns who have suffered from birth trauma or a birth injury. Often these are caused by misused forceps, vacuum extractor tools, or by suffering from extreme infant asphyxia.
As with most injuries, these types of hemorrhages can range in severity – but no matter how severe or mild the hemorrhaging is, it should always be treated as if it’s an emergency . . . because it is.
Hemorrhages can cause permanent brain damage or lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
Intracranial Hemorrhaging Caused By Birth Trauma
When it comes to hemorrhaging, there is a type that occurs most commonly: subarachnoid hemorrhaging.
This is a type of intracranial hemorrhaging that is caused by birth trauma. This is what it’s called when there is bleeding between the membranes that cover the brain and the actual brain. This will typically occur in full-term babies, but if it happens, it can reveal itself in the form of lethargy, sleep apnea, and seizures.
Among the types of intracranial hemorrhage caused by birth trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhages are some of the most common. A subarachnoid hemorrhage denotes bleeding between the brain and the membranes which cover it. This is most common in full-term babies and can cause seizures, sleep apnea, and lethargy.
Important Risk Factors To Monitor For
Intracranial hemorrhages in newborns are typically caused by birth trauma, but there are ways to prevent the hemorrhages from happening, or at least to catch them as they start.
Pre-existing factors increase the chance that a newborn might suffer from birth trauma. These factors are:
- Pre-term birth
- Fetal macrosomia — when the baby is larger than average for its age
- Cephalopelvic disproportion — when the baby’s head is too big for its mother’s pelvis
- Abnormal fetal presentation, such as a breech birth
- Prolonged labor
- Blood pressure abnormalities
- Blood disorders, such as hemophilia
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy — decreased oxygen and blood flow to the baby at or near the time of delivery, which causes blood vessel walls to break down, leading to bleeding
How Intracranial Hemorrhages Are Caused By Birth Trauma
Although pre-existing conditions might lead to specific risk factors that can cause intracranial hemorrhages, the most common cause is trauma that happens at the time of birth.
Some types of traumas that occur at the time of birth are usually caused by doctors. It should be noted that many of these are preventable if caught soon enough:
- Trauma during delivery
- Improper use of vacuum extractor
- Improper use of forceps
- Birth asphyxia
- Delayed C-section
Intracranial Hemorrhaging Symptoms
If intracranial hemorrhages occur, the best next step is to observe the newborn and keep an eye out for warning signs such as:
- Feeding difficulties
- Bulging fontanel
- Shallow breathing
When warning signs are present, the next step should be to order a brain imaging test like an MRI or CT scan.
The Appropriate Treatment
When intracranial hemorrhage is diagnosed, treatment will often be of a supportive nature — most mild cases are resolved on their own, without any medical intervention.
In more severe cases, neurosurgical intervention and therapy may be indicated to prevent long-term physical and intellectual disabilities.
Long-Term Complications of Intracranial Hemorrhage
The greatest risk of intracranial hemorrhage is in the oxygen deprivation that may occur from the increased pressure on the brain or surrounding vessels. This lack of oxygen can cause blood pressure to elevate, rupturing more of the brain’s blood vessels, and initiating brain cell death. This sequence of events can result in permanent damage, and is associated with the following complications:
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Motor problems
- Developmental delays and learning disabilities
Studies have shown that children who sustained intracranial hemorrhages as infants have higher rates of hearing impairment and cerebral palsy, and lower rates of IQ, daily living skills and school test scores.
What to Hold Doctors Accountable For
Competent physicians should be on watch for the warning signs of intracranial hemorrhage in the pregnancy stage, and make a prompt diagnosis of symptoms and prescribe the correct treatment in the event it occurs. Although intracranial hemorrhages are often the result of doctor-caused birth trauma, medical negligence requires connecting the birth injury to a breach of care.
Get in Touch
When to Consult with an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
With birth injuries stemming from intracranial hemorrhage, the best course of action is to consult with skilled Philadelphia Birth Injury Attorneys like those at McEldrew Purtell as soon as possible. Although filing suit may seem like a secondary concern when dealing with an infant’s health, both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law state that birth injury cases must be filed within two years from the date of injury — other states set their statutes of limitations as short as one year for such cases.
With 30 years of experience in cases of birth trauma, McEldrew Purtell is well suited to evaluate the situation and help determine if the injury suffered involved acts of medical negligence or professional malpractice. All birth injury claims are handled on a contingency basis.
To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at (215) 545-8800.