Intraventricular hemorrhage: symptoms and treatments

Washington residents may be familiar with a condition called intraventricular hemorrhage where the ventricles, or fluid-filled areas, of the brain bleed. It often develops in babies born more than 10 weeks early because they have undeveloped blood vessels. Babies born with respiratory distress syndrome or unstable blood pressure, among other medical conditions, are also at a high risk for IVH.

There are four "grades" of IVH to classify the degree of bleeding with grades 3 and 4 being the most serious. In grade 3 IVH, the blood will press on the brain tissue, and in grade 4 IVH, the blood will directly involve brain tissue, possibly forming blood clots that obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, cause it to build up and lead to hydrocephalus.

While some babies will display no symptoms, others may suffer changes in heart rate, pauses in breathing, a decline in their reflexes, lethargy and seizures. Grades 1 and 2 IVH usually do not cause long-term problems, but grades 3 and 4 can make movement problematic and cause developmental delays.

IVH cannot be treated directly, but a blood transfusion may help counter the symptoms. A spinal tap may relieve pressure on the brain by draining excess fluid. Ultrasounds of the head can detect IVH and are recommended for all newborns born before 30 weeks.

There may be times in which IVH develops through the negligence of doctors and nurses. For example, premature babies who have their umbilical cords clamped will have a higher risk of developing it. If there seem to be grounds for a case under medical malpractice law, families may want to consult with an attorney. To gather evidence of negligence, the attorney might hire investigators and medical experts. Once a reasonable amount in damages has been calculated, the attorney may be able to negotiate for that amount.

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