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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Brain Injury News and Research - Specific Injuries in Head Trauma

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Head Trauma Injuries

There are many causes of brain injuries in infants and children. Head trauma can happen for many reasons such as a severe or sudden hit or fall. Brain injuries occur in some babies as a result of problems during labor or delivery. These may range from mild to severe in nature. Head trauma in infants is always a cause for concern and requires immediate diagnosis and treatment. The brain is a very sensitive organ and is surrounded by a membrane and cushioned by fluid. This helps protect it from damage.

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Tissue Injuries

Tissue damage can range from mild to severe. They include concussions, bruises, cuts, diffuse axonal injuries and swelling, and ischemia. In infant birth injuries, swelling could cause ischemia, deprivation of oxygen. The longer an infant is without oxygen; the more serious the damage is likely to be. The most severe injuries are those where the newborn was fully deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes. In some cases, the infant cannot survive the injury. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs in babies who have suffered low blood or oxygen flow and could result in permanent disabilities.

Vessel Injuries

Blood can collect in the areas where it shouldn’t go after an incidence of trauma. This is called a hematoma. The main concern with a hematoma inside the head is the possibility of the accumulation of blood putting excess pressure on the brain. This could cause a shift in the brain which could damage the stem. Too much bleeding or swelling could cut off parts of the organ from oxygen. This causes a lack of oxygen that could result in damage.

There are various types of hematomas or hemorrhages including:

  • Epidural Hematoma – Typically caused by an impact, blood accumulates between the dura and the skull.
  • Subdural Hematoma – Blood slowly collects, so harm is not always immediately known.
  • Intracerebral Hematoma – Bleeding inside the brain tissue where it could collect and cause further problems.
  • Subarachnoid Hematoma – The most common type of injury, bleeding occurs in the outside layer called the subarachnoid space.

Harm to the Skull

Skull fractures may happen when severe impact occurs. When the skull is fractured the impact was quite hard, and there could be harmful to the surrounding cranial nerves, arteries, veins and the cerebrum as well. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the patient could be at risk for infections. Skull injuries to infants during birth are less common than other types of harm, but they can happen. Forceps are sometimes used to assist in the birth process, and if used negligently they could harm the baby’s head. In some rare instances, a newborn is dropped after delivery causing head trauma.

Any trauma to an infant’s head must be treated as a medical emergency. The doctor will immediately evaluate the child and determine the best course of treatment. Babies who suffer a lack of oxygen during labor or delivery may require cooling therapy called neonatal hypothermia. This treatment brings the baby’s core temperature down in an effort to reduce brain damage.