Posts Tagged ‘intraventricular hemorrhage’

Brain bleeds in premature babies

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

brainThe younger, smaller and sicker a baby is at birth, the more likely he is to have a brain bleed, also called an intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). If you or someone you know has a baby with a brain bleed, it can be a very scary and upsetting experience.

Bleeding in the brain is most common in the smallest of babies born prematurely (weighing less than 3 1/3 pounds). A baby born before 32 weeks of pregnancy is at the highest risk of developing a brain bleed. The tiny blood vessels in a baby’s brain are very fragile and can be injured easily. The bleeds usually occur in the first few days of life.

How are brain bleeds diagnosed?

Bleeding generally occurs near the fluid-filled spaces (ventricles) in the center of the brain. An ultrasound examination can show whether a baby has a brain bleed and how severe it is. According to, “all babies born before 30 weeks should have an ultrasound of the head to screen for IVH. The test is done once between 7 and 14 days of age. Babies born between 30-34 weeks may also have ultrasound screening if they have symptoms of the problem.”

Are all brain bleeds the same?

Brain bleeds usually are given a number grade (1 to 4) according to their location and size. The right and left sides of the brain are graded separately. Most brain bleeds are mild (grades 1 and 2) and resolve themselves with few lasting problems. More severe bleeds (grade 3 and 4) can cause difficulties for your baby during hospitalization as well as possible problems in the future.

What happens after your baby leaves the hospital?

Every child is unique. How well your baby will do depends on several factors. Many babies will need close monitoring by a pediatric neurologist or other specialist (such as a developmental behavioral pediatrician) during infancy and early childhood. Some children may have seizures or problems with speech, movement or learning.

If your baby is delayed in meeting his developmental milestones, he may benefit from early intervention services (EI). EI services such as speech, occupational and physical therapy may help your child make strides. Read this series to learn how to access services in your state.

Where can parents find support?

Having a baby with a brain bleed can be overwhelming. The March of Dimes online community, Share Your Story, is a place where parents can find comfort and support from other parents who have (or had) a baby in the NICU with a brain bleed. Just log on and post a comment and you will be welcomed.


Brain bleeds in preemies

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Bleeding in the brain, known as intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), occurs in some premature babies. A baby born before about 32 weeks of pregnancy is at highest risk. The bleeds usually occur in the first 3 days of life and generally are diagnosed with an ultrasound. Fortunately, a preemie’s brain, which is still developing, has great stamina. Most brain bleeds are mild and resolve themselves with no or few lasting problems.

Generally speaking, the younger, smaller and sicker a baby is at birth, the more likely he is to have an IVH. A baby whose birth weight is less than 1,000 grams has roughly a 35% chance of having an IVH (20% of having a serious one), while a baby born between 1,000 and 1,500 grams has only about a 7% chance of a serious IVH. After 30 weeks of gestation, the risk of developing a serious IVH drops to less than 1%.

Intraventricular hemorrhages are given a grade (1 to 4) according to their location and size, and the right and left sides of the brain are graded separately. Grades 1 and 2 are mild, generally resolve themselves and have no long-term problems associated with them.

More severe, serious bleeds (grades 3 and 4) can affect, though not always, the substance of the brain or cause the fluid-filled structures (ventricles) in the brain to expand rapidly. These severe bleeds can cause increased pressure on the brain that can lead to brain damage bringing about complications such as cerebral palsy and learning and behavioral problems. When fluid persists in the ventricles, neurosurgeons may need to insert a tube (shunt) into the brain to drain the fluid and reduce the risk of brain damage.

The long-term outcome for a premature baby who suffers an IVH depends on many variables: the grade of the bleed, the degree of injury caused by lack of blood and oxygen flowing to the brain around the time of the bleed, mechanical interventions required to help the baby (such as the use of a ventilator), and any complications the baby has (such as infection or hydrocephalus). Head ultrasounds and MRIs will be used to closely monitor changes over several weeks. Test results will help doctors predict what parents may see once their baby comes home.

It’s essential to note that no two babies are alike and each baby has his own path to walk. What’s important is that the parents of each baby provide a nurturing and stimulating environment in the early years to help him develop to his full potential.

Learn more about brain bleeds in premature babies, including what to expect when you leave the hospital, and where to go for support.

If you had a baby with a brain bleed, please feel free to share a little of your story with us.

Charlie’s very early arrival

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Our guest post today is from one of our wonderful volunteers.

At my 20 week ultrasound, I was measuring and feeling great, and the baby was growing well. I was so excited to be pregnant. We had signed up for birthing and breast-feeding classes.  We bought our first house and a new car, and negotiated baby names. We thought we were prepared.  Just 5 short weeks later, though, we realized we were wrong.

I walked from work to the nearest hospital one morning with concerns about some cramping and light bleeding. The contraction monitor did not registering any activity, though, and a fetal heart-rate monitor showed no distress. I was suspicious about the fact that the cramps were occurring at regular intervals like contractions, but the machines kept everyone calm until the doctor examined me. Everything changed with his words: “You’re 6 cm dilated. Your baby is coming today.”

While I cried, the nurses sprang into action, administering steroids for the baby’s lungs and magnesium sulfate to delay labor. But my body would not cooperate. After a mercifully short labor, Charlie marked his entrance into the world with a tiny mewl of a cry that took my breath away.

Our sweet baby was immediately in danger. At just 1 pound, 15 ounces, his body was shocking in its minute perfection. We had only a minute or so with him before they whisked him away, but I was instantly in love. 

Within the week, we got an education in micro-prematurity: ventilators and C-PAPs, central lines, intraventricular hemorrhages, pulmonary embolism, patent ductus arteriosis, and bilirubin counts.  In layman’s terms, our baby boy was on a breathing machine, being fed through a tube in his belly, had a lung bleed and brain bleeds, and a congenital heart defect that might require surgery. He was jaundiced, his eyes were fused, and his face and body were bruised from my contractions. Some days it felt like too much to handle. But the doctors and nurses told us to believe in our son. “Your son’s a fighter”, they would remind us.  And they were right; after 85 long days in the NICU, we brought Charlie home.

The tough times were not over once we brought him home. We fortified his bottles and fretted over his weight gain – and now he’s tall for his age. We wondered why he didn’t babble like other kids, and now we can’t get him to be quiet. We thought he’d never start to crawl; today he races across the playground equipment and down the slide. Charlie is now 2 ½ years old and in preschool. He is strong, healthy, funny, brave and tests us constantly. He still exhibits every bit of the fighting spirit that helped him pull through in the NICU. We are so proud.

Our experience taught me so much that I wish all moms knew:
• Listen to your body. Machines may say everything is fine, but you know when you don’t feel right. Tell someone!
• Trust in the miracle of modern medicine, and the strides that the March of Dimes and others have made to dramatically improve the survival rate of preemies. 
• Understand that your baby is STRONG, and your love and support make a difference.