No matter what the circumstances surrounding a birth injury are, they always cause a significant amount of stress for the baby, the parents, and the medical team. However, birth injuries range in severity from very mild to exceedingly severe. One of the most severe, and devastating, injuries that can occur is an intracranial hemorrhage.
What is an Intracranial Hemorrhage?
An intracranial hemorrhage is the medical term given to bleeding that occurs in, on, and around the brain. After the neonatal period, these injuries typically result from trauma to the skull, such as being struck with a blunt object or being thrown from a car. When these injuries occur, blood can start to fill in the skull cavity, crowding out the brain. If the brain is forced through a small opening in the skull, such as the foramen magnum, this is called a herniation and can damage some of the processes essential to life, such as breathing. This can result in a coma and, eventually, death.
How Does This Occur in a Newborn Baby?
Unfortunately, these types of traumatic brain bleeds aren’t just limited to adults but can extend to newborns in the birthing process as well. Sometimes, the baby has trouble exiting through the birth canal for any number of reasons, ranging from the size of the baby to the position in the canal. When babies have trouble fitting through, the physician may elect to go with forceps to help the baby twist and turn through the birth canal. These are wonderful tools if used effectively; however, people need to remember that the baby’s skull isn’t fully formed as they exit the birth canal. This means that their brain is susceptible to being damaged by the forceps, possibly causing an intracranial hemorrhage.
If My Baby Has an Intracranial Hemorrhage, What is the Prognosis?
The good news regarding this type of injury is that the baby’s skull is not yet fully formed, meaning that the brain has room to swell inside of a cavity that is only partially closed. This can give room and time for the injury to swell and then collapse back down to normal size, avoiding the dreaded complications that can occur with a herniation. If the brain has room to swell, it won’t herniate as quickly.
After this, the prognosis of the injury depends heavily on the amount and location of the bleeding around the brain. This can be diagnosed and graded using a CT scan or an MRI. Some babies will make a full recovery while others may have lifelong disabilities. The only way to determine this is to wait and see as the child develops.
Intracranial hemorrhages can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences for the entire family. Anyone who has suspicions of a birth injury should therefore consider contacting an experienced attorney for assistance.