Newborn and Infant Intracranial Hemorrhage or Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Injury Lawyers
Intracranial hemorrhage — also known as “brain bleed” — is a type of bleeding that happens inside the skull, and is often caused in newborns by birth trauma such as the misuse of forceps or vacuum extractor tools, or by birth asphyxia. These hemorrhages can range from mild to severe, but are always an emergency. They can result in permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy and other lifelong disabilities.
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.
The types of intracranial hemorrhage. Source: Wikipedia
Risk Factors Your Doctor Should Be Paying Attention To
Although newborn intracranial hemorrhages are often caused by birth trauma, competent doctors should already be aware of the risk due to:
- 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 Birth Trauma Can Cause Intracranial Hemorrhages
While the risk factors often set the stage for intracranial hemorrhages, it’s trauma at or around the time of birth that is at fault in most cases. The following traumas are usually either caused by doctors or preventable through timely intervention:
- Trauma during delivery
- Improper use of vacuum extractor
- Improper use of forceps
- Birth asphyxia
- Delayed C-section
The Symptoms of Intracranial Hemorrhage
When intracranial hemorrhages occur, the next step in the proper standard of care is careful observation of warning signs for a timely diagnosis. The following symptoms can indicate intracranial hemorrhage:
- Feeding difficulties
- Bulging fontanel
- Shallow breathing
Neonatal intensive care unit. Source: Wikipedia
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.
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 attorneys like those at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt 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 Young Purtell Merritt 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.