Intracranial Hemorrhage At Birth: Natural Complication Or Medical Negligence?

Posted on: 31 July 2019


Intracranial hemorrhage is defined as bleeding that occurs in or around the brain, and it occurs when one or more blood vessels ruptures, allowing blood to leak into the surrounding tissues. In adults, intracranial hemorrhage usually occurs due to some type of trauma; for example, a person who hits his head on the steering wheel during a car accident might sustain this type of injury. Intracranial hemorrhage can also occur in newborns, especially if an obstetrician applies excessive force to the head when delivering a baby. If your baby was diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhage soon after birth, talk to a personal injury lawyer. In some cases, intracranial hemorrhage in a newborn is the result of medical negligence, and you may be eligible for compensation to cover your child's injury-related medical costs.

The Obstetrician's Role

While providing prenatal care or delivering a baby, an obstetrician must use his or her best judgment to make decisions regarding your care. For example, if your labor is not progressing normally, your obstetrician must decide whether to give you medication, perform a C-section, or move things along by attempting to change the baby's position in the birth canal. These decisions are made based on several factors, including how long you have been in labor, the baby's position, and the information displayed on the fetal monitor. If your obstetrician makes the wrong decision, your baby could sustain an intracranial hemorrhage during delivery.

Fetal Hypoxia

One potential cause of intracranial hemorrhage is fetal hypoxia, a condition in which your baby does not receive enough oxygen. A lack of oxygen causes brain cells to die, increasing the risk for a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. This form of encephalopathy causes the blood vessels in the brain to weaken, which may lead to bleeding in or around the brain. Fetal hypoxia, along with a resulting brain hemorrhage, may be the result of medical negligence, especially if your obstetrician failed to monitor you closely or notice that your baby was displaying signs of distress.

Excessive Force

In some cases, an intracranial hemorrhage occurs naturally due to the amount of force applied to the baby's head while it is passing through the birth canal. However, an obstetrician can increase the risk of intracranial hemorrhage by using delivery techniques that increase the amount of force on the baby's head. For example, some obstetricians use a technique called vacuum extraction to deliver a baby when labor is not progressing as fast as it should. The use of vacuum extraction is associated with an increased risk of subgaleal hemorrhage, which occurs when a vein ruptures, allowing blood to leak into the space between the skull and the brain. Using forceps and other instruments can also increase the amount of pressure applied to the baby's head.

Intracranial hemorrhage can occur on its own, but it is often the result of medical negligence on the part of an obstetrician. Since this type of injury can have long-term consequences for your baby, discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney who has experience handling birth-injury cases. You may be entitled to compensation to cover your baby's initial medical expenses as well as any ongoing costs related to the injury.