Life changes instantly for everyone involved when an infant endures brain damage at birth. Suddenly, the joy of bringing a new life into the world is instantly replaced with thoughts of worry and concern for the future of the infant. When this event occurs, it can be difficult to comprehend how something so devastating could happen so early in the life of a child. Severe trauma to the brain that results in excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging and when the brain does not receive adequate amounts of oxygen are the two primary causal factors that can result in a traumatic brain injury to an infant.
An intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain of an infant, is a birth injury that results as a blood vessel within the brain suddenly bursts. Perinatal asphyxia and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occur as a result of damage to the skull of the infant, which causes bleeding due to lack of oxygen to the brain or an injury during the labor and delivery process. When parents have a child who suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth, they must determine if it occurred as a result of the brain receiving inadequate oxygen or if it was caused by a difficult labor and delivery. Parents must also have evidence that brain injury occurred as a direct result of medical negligence on the part of medical staff or a malfunction of the medical equipment used during labor and delivery.
Brain Damage Caused by Hemorrhaging
A brain bleed is most likely to occur in infants who are born premature. Ischemia, or insufficient blood flow to the brain, or hypoxia, which happens when the brain does not receive enough oxygen, are the two primary causes of brain injury in infants. A brain injury may even occur in the infant without noticeable symptoms. However, when symptoms are present after an infant suffers a brain bleed, the infant may have seizures, be fatigued or lethargic, or have problems when feeding.
Common Brain Hemorrhages
A subdural hemorrhage occurs as the blood vessels within the brain rupture and bleeding is present within the surface of the brain and the tissue that divides the brain from the skull. Since labor and delivery techniques are now much improved, the risk of a subdural hemorrhage has significantly declined. When this type of brain bleed occurs, it can push against the brain, resulting in increased pressure. When an infant suffers a subdural hemorrhage, they can experience seizures or have an increased amount of bilirubin present in the bloodstream.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a bleed that occurs between the tissues that cover the brain. They are most likely to occur in newborns that are delivered full-term and are the most common form of bleeding within the brain. Other than the risk of seizures for a few days following delivery, infants with this form of a brain bleed suffer no permanent effects.
An intraventricular hemorrhage is bleeding within the spaces of the brain that contain cerebral spinal fluid. An intraparenchymal hemorrhage is bleeding onto the tissue of the brain. Both intraventricular hemorrhage and intraparenchymal hemorrhage occur in premature babies with brains that are not fully developed and are usually not caused by a birth injury.