Was a medical provider responsible for your baby’s brain bleed at birth?
Childbirth is much safer today than it ever has been in the past. With help from the latest technology and research-based techniques, you and your baby stand a better chance of making it through the traumatic labor and birthing process healthy and happy.
But make no mistake: things can still go wrong. And finding out that your baby suffered an injury during labor or delivery can leave you feeling concerned about your child’s immediate health and future.
One such possible injury is a neonatal intracranial hemorrhage, better known as a “brain bleed.”
If your child suffered an injury at birth, we invite you to consult with our birth injury lawyers to determine if you have a case for medical negligence. You may be owed significant compensation for your child’s injury.
What is neonatal intracranial hemorrhage?
A neonatal intracranial hemorrhage is an injury that can happen during childbirth. It ranges from mild and barely detectable to so severe that it has long-term effects on your child’s development. Medical professionals who assist with baby deliveries are trained to identify and prevent brain bleeds.
As frightening as it sounds, a brain bleed is exactly what it implies. It occurs when some type of injury or trauma during childbirth causes a part of your baby’s brain or inner part of their head to bleed.
What causes brain bleed in a child?
If a newborn does suffer neonatal intracranial hemorrhage, there is the possibility that medical malpractice occurred. However, it’s also possible that it happened for other unpreventable reasons. As a new parent, it’s important to understand the factors that occurred during the time of your childbirth to determine if you might have a malpractice case.
Other possible causes and risk factors of a baby brain hemorrhage include:
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- High blood pressure (neonatal hypertension)
- Blood or clotting disorders (hemophilia, sickle cell disease, etc.)
- Liver disease
- Brain tumor
- Macrosomia (above average fetus size)
- Abnormal fetal positioning (breech, face or brow)
- Prolonged labor
- Premature babies
Although a brain bleed can occur during normal childbirth, it’s more likely to occur during a surgically-assisted delivery. The use of a vacuum or forceps puts additional pressure on the newborn’s head, which can lead to head trauma and bleeding. Improper delivery techniques such as overuse of force or excessive twisting can also cause neonatal intracranial hemorrhage.
What are the symptoms of neonatal intracranial hemorrhage?
There are several signs of brain bleed in a baby that you and your child’s doctors should watch out for during their first hours of life. Swelling of the head is the most common symptom, but this can sometimes also occur from natural causes such as the pressure placed on the skull as the baby travels down the birth canal.
A baby with a severe brain bleed, especially one caused by a vacuum delivery, will often show more signs of distress. Poor feeding, a bluish color around their mouth and a high-pitched wail are all signs that a baby may have an intracranial bleed.
How do doctors treat childbirth brain bleeds?
When a brain bleed is suspected, doctors must immediately assess your baby for trauma to their head. An ultrasound is typically the preferred method for making a diagnosis, and a doctor will use the imaging results to identify how extensive the brain bleed is.
Next, doctors generally diagnose the injury using a grading scale. A Grade 1 brain bleed is considered minor and unlikely to cause long-term effects, whereas a Grade 4 brain bleed is the most severe. An infant with a Grade 4 brain bleed may need surgery or medication to try to prevent serious damage.
What are the long-term effects of neonatal hemorrhage?
Some babies experience a mild brain bleed that they can recover from completely in time. However, there is a serious risk of long-term effects if your baby’s brain bleed is on the higher end of the grading scale, or if the hemorrhage goes untreated. Some of the long-term effects might not show up until many years later since it takes time to notice developmental delays that are caused by birth-related brain trauma.
Children with severe brain bleeds could live with physical or mental disabilities for the rest of their life. For example, cerebral palsy can sometimes be caused by brain bleeds. Learning disabilities could also appear as your child enters early childhood and begins to show academic delays.
Are brain bleeds preventable?
Since the worst effects of brain bleeds occur most frequently in babies who are born prematurely, it’s important for doctors and pregnant individuals to do what they can to prevent preterm birth and complications during delivery.
Doctors who are concerned about brain bleeds may recommend that a woman with a smaller build and a larger baby have a c-section to prevent the need for using forceps or a vacuum. If a problem arises during vaginal birth, then your medical team must consider performing an emergency c-section to avoid the risks associated with using birthing tools such as forceps.
Can a doctor be held liable for neonatal intracranial hemorrhage?
A brain bleed at birth can lead to major health challenges and long-term impacts down the road that impact your child’s ability to reach their full potential. This is why medical professionals are held to high standards of care during the childbirth process. In the majority of cases, there is no reason why a doctor should use both forceps and a vacuum since these birthing tools are known to increase the risk of serious brain injuries in babies, and they are a common cause of birth injury malpractice lawsuits.
Our birth injury attorneys can identify when a doctor might have demonstrated poor judgment that led to a brain bleed or another birth injury such as failing to monitor a pregnancy that was high-risk for premature delivery or not recommending a c-section when it was clearly the best course of action for mother and child.
The realization that your baby sustained an injury at birth might hit you during a time when you are already overwhelmed by the many concerns that come with parenting. You also might have trouble recalling the events of the birth or be unsure of the complicated medical terminology that your physician or the hospital used in your paperwork.
If your baby received a diagnosis of brain bleeding during childbirth, then it’s in your best interests to meet with a birth injury lawyer to determine if a doctor’s negligence could be to blame for the trauma.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma
- Neonatal Intracranial Hemorrhage (Childbirth Brain Bleeds)
- Hydrocephalus (Extra Fluid in the Brain Cavity)
- Cervical Dystonia
- Hemiplegia (Brain or Spinal Cord Injury)
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Neonatal Stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) Brain Injury
- Infant Seizures
- Spastic Diplegia (Spasticity in the Legs)
- Top Risks for Birth Injuries
- G-Tubes for Newborns
- Medical Errors
- Cesarean Section & Birth Injury
- Negligence in Brain Cooling Treatment
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Fetal Intolerance to Labor
- Jaundice (Kernicterus)
- Breech Position
- Placental Complications
- Placental Problems
- Umbilical Cord Problems
- Uterine Rupture
- Cervical Incompetence (Insufficiency)
- Blighted Ovum
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) - Intestinal Inflammation
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
- Amniotic Fluid Embolism
- Birth Injury from Premature Delivery
- Developmental Delays
- Abnormal Cord Insertion
- Infections at Birth
- Chorioamnionitis Bacterial Infection
- Premature birth
- Oxygen Deprivation
- Obesity Related Birth Injuries
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Blood Clots During Pregnancy
- Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis
- Myths & Facts About Birth Injuries
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Gestational Diabetes
- Maternal Mortality Risk