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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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Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Treatment

Subarachnoid hemorrhages in infants are characterized by bleeding in the area between the two membranes that cover the brain – the subarachnoid space.

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It is a kind of intracranial hemorrhage, and the second most detected brain bleeds in newborn babies that typically occurs in full term babies and leads to lethargy, apnea, and seizures, as well as permanent brain damage because of a blunt force trauma or high blood pressure, passed down from the mother.

The most important thing is to act quickly when a baby has bleeding on the brain.

Treatment for Infant Hemorrhages

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Treatment is mostly of a supportive nature, although intervention in the form of neurosurgery may be necessary. The prognosis tends to vary depending on the severity of the baby’s bleed. Some newborns do very well with little to no residual side effects. However, severe bleeds may lead to physical and mental impairments such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and intellectual impairments.

The earlier your baby is diagnosed with a hemorrhage; the earlier therapy and treatment can begin to delay or obliterate impairments and other long-lasting damages.

Treatments may include:

1. Conservative Treatment

If there is no definable cause for your baby’s bleeding on the brain, surgery may not be an option. But, drainage of the blood from the subarachnoid area is usually performed, after which careful observation is carried out for a period to make sure that there is no further damage to your infant’s brain.

2. Surgery

Surgery may only be carried out if the cause of the hemorrhage is clear. There are two common types of surgery that may be performed:

  • Endovascular coiling – the physician will locate the affected blood vessel, and tiny coils will be introduced until the space is filled. This helps the area to clot, preventing further bleeding.
  • Clipping – a hole is cut into the baby’s skull to access the brain and then clip the aneurysm. The area is then wrapped to stop the bleeding.

Brain surgery, especially in a baby’s soft skull and brain is risky, but so is a lack of quick action.

3. Cooling Therapy

Newborn babies who experience brain trauma and hemorrhaging may undergo cooling therapy to stop the bleeding and stop brain cells from dying off. The babies are placed in a clinical treatment setting where their core body temperatures are lowered. The clinical setting is usually set to around 33 degrees Celsius and treatments tend to last about three days. The clinical setting that is used depends on the baby’s injuries and the hospital’s resources. In most cases, newborn babies are placed on a cooling blanket filled with water. They are then monitored over the three-day period as their metabolic rate slows down.

Experts have found that cooling therapy can reduce the chances of severe brain injury in newborn babies. Further, research indicates that the benefits of this type of therapy tend to outweigh the risks. But, parents should always be aware of risk factors. For example, babies may experience a slight increase in their baseline heart rate and a greater need for blood pressure support while undergoing treatment.

There are also several long-term benefits to be had from cooling therapy. For example, children who underwent the treatment as babies are more likely to have a survival rate and less likely to develop severe development issues, such as cognitive impairments and cerebral palsy. The rate of infant death also declines for those who receive the therapy.

Can a Baby’s Hemorrhage Be Prevented?

If your baby’s brain hemorrhage occurred after blunt force trauma or a medical mistake, it could almost always be prevented. It is up to your physicians to treat hypertension in both you and your baby, and not drop or hit your infant.

Of course, each infant’s outcome will vary depending on the cause of the bleeding and size of the hemorrhage. Some children do not experience problems after treatment, and others may grow up with ongoing neurological issues, such as seizures, and difficulties with movement, speech, or learning. In such cases, it is important to regularly follow up with doctors and seek supportive case such as occupational, physical, and speech therapy, if needed.