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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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Intracranial Hemorrhage – Related Conditions

Several conditions are involved in the risk for intracranial hemorrhage or are caused by its impacts. Bleeding in the brain is especially dangerous. It can cause harm in several ways, including depriving areas of oxygen, so that brain cells die.

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The presence of blood can also disrupt cellular communication, causing the functions they are responsible for controlling to be affected. One may lose their ability to move, and a baby may show signs of breathing trouble or seem as if it is hard to suck or swallow. There are also a few conditions associated with hemorrhaging in the skull.

Seizures: Bleeding in the brain can disrupt the sensitive electrical pathways, especially in small infants. The seizures may be subtle and seen only on the results of tests such as an electroencephalogram. An American Academy of Neurology study found that patients with intracranial bleeding and seizure activity had relatively poor outcomes. In the general population, these occur in a third of people with a brain bleed.

Aneurysms: More common in adults, a cerebral aneurysm is often undetectable unless it bursts. An infant may have symptoms such as vomiting, a stiff neck, or it may seem sensitive to light. It may lose consciousness and experience seizures. A diagnosis can only be made with the appropriate testing and imaging. The risk for aneurysms may increase if there is a family history of them, or one has a genetic disorder.

High Blood Pressure: Pregnant women who develop high blood pressure during their term may have pre-eclampsia. Often starting 20 weeks into a pregnancy, this condition can affect red blood cells, the lungs, liver, and kidneys. The mother and fetus can experience complications such as a hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke. If the problem develops into eclampsia, the patient may experience convulsive seizures, and the risk of death for both the mother and baby are higher. The danger of high blood pressure is that blood pushes against arterial walls, which can burst if the pressure is high enough.

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Cerebral Palsy: A significant risk factor, an intraventricular hemorrhage can damage the brain enough to trigger CP. Lower grades often don’t lead to long-term issues, but higher grades can cause swelling and obstruction of vital areas of the brain. Unless high levels of fluid are surgically relieved, hydrocephalus can persist and lead to permanent damage. The situation is exacerbated by fluctuating blood pressure, particularly if the baby needs to be put on a ventilator.

An infant with cerebral palsy may show signs in its early weeks and months, or perhaps not until they enter preschool. Impaired movement is a common sign. The child may have abnormal reflexes, or their limbs may be rigid; an abnormal posture, unsteady walk, and combination of physical attributes are associated with the condition. Other signs include trouble swallowing and eye muscle imbalance, and an individual’s intellectual abilities may or may not be significantly affected. In fact, some people with CP function at a near normal intellectual level.

Hydrocephalus: Excessive bleeding in the skull can cause clots and blockages that trigger a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid, which can put a lot of pressure on the brain. Given a newborn’s soft spots between the skull bones, hydrocephalus can increase the circumference of their head. Their head may also be unusually large from birth. If accompanied by vomiting, irritability, fatigue, and seizures, fluid buildup is likely the cause. The condition causes permanent damage and physical and mental impairments and is usually fatal if not treated. Surgery is often required to resolve the fluid pressure, which is done inserting a shunt in the head to remove the excess fluid. If treated in time, a newborn can develop normally throughout their life.

Lasting Consequences

Intracranial hemorrhage is associated with a wide variety of conditions. These can include other problems such as poor balance and coordination, which is more noticeable as a baby is expected to hit milestones such as sitting up or crawling. A child may not be able to focus or see well. Over the course of their life, an infant with such a bleed can have permanent numbness or paralysis, difficulties with speech and comprehension, memory problems, learning disabilities, and emotional struggles.