What Is an Intracranial Hemorrhage?
An intracranial hemorrhage, also known as a brain bleed, is a brain injury in which bleeding within the skull or brain damages the areas of the brain that control mental and physical development. A large number of brain bleeds occur as a result of mismanaged labor and delivery, and they often result in irreparable brain damage with lifelong limitations to cognitive and motor function.
Whether your loved one’s cerebral palsy (CP) resulted from an intracranial hemorrhage or from another labor and delivery injury, a qualified and experienced lawyer from Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys can help you determine if negligence was the cause. Contact Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys in one of the following ways and one of our highly qualified Michigan birth injury lawyers will answer your questions. Our cerebral palsy lawyers will provide you with a free case review and, should we take your medical malpractice case, you will not be charged unless we win or settle in your favor. Contact our Michigan cerebral palsy lawyers in any of the following ways:
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What Types of Intracranial Hemorrhages Can Cause Cerebral Palsy?
There are five types of intracranial hemorrhages inflicted around the time of birth that can cause cerebral palsy, permanent brain damage, or even death:
- Cerebral Hemorrhage: A type of stroke where bleeding occurs within the brain itself.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage: Typically occurring in full term babies, this type of hemorrhage causes bleeding in the area between the innermost membranes that cover the brain. It is characterized by seizure activity, lethargy, and apnea.
- Intraventricular hemorrhage: Because this hemorrhage causes bleeding into the brain’s ventricular system (where spinal fluid is produced), it is the most serious type of brain bleed. It most frequently affects premature and underweight infants because underdeveloped babies have weak and immature brain cells, and often results from physical trauma during birth.
- Subdural hemorrhage (or hematoma): Usually a result of strained deliveries, this hemorrhage occurs when a rupture takes place in the subdural space, or the area between the brain and the tissue that separates the brain from the skull. Complications of a subdural hemorrhage include seizures, high blood levels of bilirubin, an enlarged head, a poor Moro reflex, or extensive bleeding in the eye’s retinal blood vessels.
- Cephalohematoma: Signified by a raised bump on the baby’s head, this hemorrhage occurs between the skull and its covering and can last anywhere from two weeks to several months.
- Subgaleal hemorrhage: This type of brain bleed occurs when a vein ruptures in the baby’s brain and bleeds into the space between the scalp and skull (the subgaleal space). Because this area of the head can contain up to half of the baby’s blood volume, this hemorrhage dangerously limits the circulation of oxygen to cells and tissues. Subgaleal hemorrhages are most commonly associated with improper vacuum extraction deliveries.
What Causes an Intracranial Hemorrhage?
- Abnormal size: Babies risk head trauma when they cannot fit through their mothers’ pelvises easily. Macrosomic babies (babies that are large for their gestational age) risk intracranial bleeding because their heads are too big to easily pass through the pelvis. In instances where the baby is a normal size, a baby can be at risk for intracranial bleeding if her mother has an abnormally small pelvis (cephalopelvic disproportion). A C-section is required in most cases. to minimize the risk of intracranial hemorrhages.
- Abnormal presentation of the baby, like breech presentation, often leads to the kinds of difficult and traumatic deliveries that result in intracranial hemorrhaging. If physician attempt at manual turning of the baby are not successful, a C-section should be performed.
- Prolonged labor causes head traumas resulting in intracranial hemorrhaging. Again, the standard of care requires that the baby is delivered by C-section if labor does not progress appropriately.
- Unstable blood pressure
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)– HIE reduces oxygen supply in the brain, and the resultant cell death and blood vessel breakdown leads to bleeding within the brain.
- Blood disorders such as vitamin K deficiency and hemophilia commonly cause spontaneous intracranial hemorrhaging.
- Premature birth: Due to their fragility and underdeveloped blood vessels, approximately 20% of premature infants under 3.3 pounds suffer from intracranial hemorrhages.
- Improper delivery techniques: Misuse of vacuum extractors or forceps, twisting of the head and neck or prolonged pulling during delivery, and use of the vacuum extractor three or more times without resorting to C-section can lead to brain bleeding.
What Injuries Are Associated with Intracranial Hemorrhages?
During labor and delivery, a number of scenarios and conditions may lead to infant head trauma with resultant intracranial bleeding. If these intracranial hemorrhages are serious enough, they can cause the following permanent injuries and conditions:
- Ischemia: Brain bleeds may cause ischemia, a condition caused when blood is limited to a baby’s brain around the time of birth. Ischemia can result in permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, and chronic seizures.
- Cerebral palsy
- Mental and physical disabilities
How are Intracranial Hemorrhages Diagnosed?
The signs and symptoms of intracranial hemorrhages include lethargy, seizures, apnea and difficulty feeding. Once a newborn exhibits one or more of these signs, the physician must use the following tests to avoid further damage:
- Brain imaging studies: CT scans and MRIs are used to detect blood in the skull.
- Testing of cerebral fluid
How Are Intracranial Hemorrhages Treated?
Because most intracranial hemorrhages are non-progressive and result in lifelong mental and physical impairments, they are largely treated through support. Occupational, psychological, and physical therapies are suggested to help stroke victims adapt to lifelong impairments. However, in cases of more severe subdural hematomas, neurosurgery is often required. Prognoses vary based on what kind of brain bleed occurred, where it occurred, and how severe it was.
How Are Intracranial Hemorrhages Prevented?
If the mother or child are at risk for an intracranial hemorrhage, physicians should be on the lookout for fetal distress signals and discuss the option or potential for a C-section birth with the mother. If fetal distress occurs and normal delivery methods fail, an emergency C-section is required to minimize the risk of brain bleeding.
Legal Help for Intracranial Hemorrhages, Birth Injury, and Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Michigan Cerebral Palsy Lawyers Representing Victims of Medical Malpractice
For many years, our experienced Michigan cerebral palsy lawyers have been helping families affected by a range of birth injury diagnoses. We are recognized as national leaders in the field of birth injury law and have a track record of multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, contact Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys today for a free consultation by calling us toll-free at (888) 592-1857 or filling out out this online contact form.