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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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The prognosis for infants diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhage may vary widely depending on how much damage has occurred as a result of bleeding on the brain.

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Another consideration is the type of treatment performed and how quickly it was done after the baby’s birth. Immediate diagnosis and treatment are essential to achieving a more successful outcome. In many cases, the extent of the damage may not be immediately known.

A child may show signs of delays in development or permanent neurological impairment as they begin to miss important progress milestones. Even an infant who initially shows very little signs of brain damage could suffer from problems later including such things as language delays, learning disabilities, and memory loss throughout their lifetime. According to the National Institutes of Health, NIH, severe cases of brain damage caused by birth injuries may result in a death rate of about 50%.

Severity of Damage

Infant brain injuries due to birth injury range from mild to severe. Infant intracranial hemorrhage and other types of brain damage are generally categorized into four types ranging from I through IV. Doctors perform various tests to determine the category of injury that was sustained. The prognosis varies based on the severity of damage sustained.

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  • Type I and II – These are the mildest in terms of damage, and therefore is more positive. In these instances, the child may suffer little to no residual complications from the birth injury. In mild cases, the sooner the treatment was administered, the less likely the child is to suffer long-term consequences. It is important to note that every child is different and even those who suffered mild damage could experience developmental delays.
  • Type III and IV – The damage in these cases is more serious, and the outcome is uncertain. Those who required surgery may need additional surgeries and ongoing treatment. The prognosis in these situations is more difficult to determine, and the full extent of the injury may not be known until the child begins to miss milestones.

Treatments Provided

The type of treatments that were provided along with how quickly they were administered may play a role in the child’s prognosis. In some cases, surgery is done to alleviate pressure due to swelling. This may have a positive impact on the ultimate recovery of the infant. In cases where there was a loss of oxygen during birth, including due to an intracranial hemorrhage, cooling treatment is often necessary.


When an infant suffers from bleeding on the brain, there is often swelling. Surgery is often necessary to eliminate the pressure on the brain until the swelling can go down. The severity of the injury often depends on where the bleeding occurred in the brain and how extensive it was. If surgery was done quickly, it might have reduced or prevented damage caused by lack of oxygen. Once swelling has subsided additional surgery is usually required to replace the area of the skull that was removed. The prognosis may not be immediately known after initial surgery because the infant is likely placed in an induced coma to encourage healing.

Infant Cooling

One of the most important treatments available for infants with brain injuries is the use of infant cooling. Cooling the baby’s temperature slows the body’s processes and allows the brain to heal itself. It stops further damage from occurring if provided quickly after birth. Cooling may be done for up to several days following birth. The National Institutes of Health, NIH, released information from studies conducted that indicate the benefits of cooling therapy on the prognosis of infants with brain injuries. They determined that of the children studied, those who received cooling treatment as infants had a lower mortality rate than children who did not receive cooling treatment.


Doctors may perform some tests that will help to indicate the severity of the injury and the effects of treatment which will, therefore, provide a better indication of the prognosis. Because an infant cannot speak or respond to commands, testing for infants is greatly limited. Doctors must observe the infant for alertness and for the ability to move the body’s limbs and head.

A computerized tomography, CT scan, is done to view bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), bruises (contusions), blood clots (hematomas) and swelling that is present. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used but only after the baby’s condition has become stable. Additionally, the doctor may need to quickly assess swelling on the brain. This can be done using a probe inserted into the skull that monitors pressure.

The prognosis for children who suffered from intracranial hemorrhage at birth is very individualized. There are many factors that must be considered, and a full prognosis may not be known until the child ages. It is important to discuss medical procedures and outcome prognosis with the medical staff to learn about your child’s specific situation.