Birth Injuries Involving Bleeding of the Brain

Medical Malpractice
Birth injury
medical negligence
infant injury

Sometimes during labor and delivery, injury to the baby’s head can occur and cause brain bleeds or hemorrhages. In some cases, these hemorrhages can be serious and cause permanent brain damage and even death. Unfortunately, many such cases are the result of mismanaged labor and delivery. In this post, we will discuss common types of hemorrhages that can result from birth trauma.

Types of brain bleeds

Intracranial bleeds

Intracranial bleeds or hemorrhaging refers to any bleeding within the brain or skull. Some common types of intracranial hemorrhages are:

Cerebral hemorrhage: A type of stroke in which bleeding occurs within the brain.

Intraventricular hemorrhage: Bleeding into the ventricular system of the brain, where spinal fluid is produced. Intraventricular hemorrhage is the most serious types intracranial bleeding and mostly occurs in infants with low birth weight and premature infants.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage: This occurs when there is bleeding in the subarachnoid space, the area between the two innermost membranes covering the brain. This type of bleeding is usually reported in full term babies.

Subdural hematoma and subdural hemorrhage: This happens when one or more blood vessels in the subdural space ruptures. The ruptures are usually a result of difficult deliveries, and cause seizures, rapidly enlarging head, high bilirubin levels or extensive retinal hemorrhages.

Extracranial bleeds or hemorrhages

These brain bleeds occur just outside the skull and can be life threatening. Some common types are:

Cephalohematoma: This occurs between the skull and it's covering. It starts as a bump on the baby’s head, and occurs just a few hours after birth and can last between 2 weeks to a few months.

Subgaleal hemorrhage: This occurs when one or more of the veins rupture and then it bleeds into the space between skull and the scalp. It can be life threatening and can cause oxygen deprivation. A vacuum extraction delivery can increase the risk of subgaleal bleeds.

Causes of bleeding of the brain in newborns

Some factors that can cause brain hemorrhages during labor and delivery include:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Mismanaged delivery of a baby in breech position or baby who is too large
  • Misuse of forceps and vacuum extraction
  • Trauma from prolonged labor
  • Mismanaged cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).
  • Abnormal changes in blood pressure
  • Blood disorders such as hemophilia or Vitamin K deficiency

It is important for doctors to closely monitor the baby for any signs of fetal distress and perform a C-section if necessary. If fetal distress is observed, and normal methods of delivery do not work, an emergency C-section may be required to minimize the risk of brain bleeds and cerebral palsy.

Severe head and brain injury to newborns can occur from medical intervention during the process of labor and delivery. Failure to use delivery instruments such as vacuum extractors and forceps properly can cause extracranial and intracranial hemorrhages. Improper delivery techniques such as excessive pulling or twisting of the infant’s head can cause severe brain bleeds.

If you think your child’s brain bleeding is a result of medical negligence, you should conider discussing your case with an experienced attorney in your area.


This article submitted by the Chicago birth injury lawyers at Willens Law Offices.

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