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Intraventricular hemorrhage in premature babies

Intraventricular hemorrhage is a condition that frequently develops in newborns, especially those born more than 10 weeks early when their blood vessels are not fully developed. The condition refers to bleeding in the ventricles, or fluid-filled areas, of the brain. Texas residents should know that there are four grades of IVH. Grades 3 and 4 IVH can be severe, pressing on the brain tissue and even directly involving it.

Symptoms of IVH range from irregular breathing and changes in blood pressure to lethargy, a decrease in muscle reflexes and weak suck. Babies may even experience seizures. In grade 4 IVH, blood clots can form and cause fluid to build up. This is called hydrocephalus and results in a swelling in the head.

Babies born before 30 weeks should have an ultrasound done on their head to check for IVH. Premature babies with medical conditions like irregular blood pressure and respiratory distress syndrome should also be checked. Parents should note that some babies with IVH will not display symptoms.

The bleeding caused by IVH cannot be stopped by any treatment, but blood transfusions may stabilize blood pressure, and a spinal tap may remove excess fluid and relieve pressure on the brain. Grades 1 and 2 IVH do not typically cause long-term problems, but severe bleeding may lead to developmental delays.

It is possible for the negligence of a doctor or nurse to raise the risk of a baby developing IVH. For example, doctors may fail to provide the right medications for mothers who are expected to deliver early. Whatever the form of negligence, parents may be able to build up a birth injury case and seek damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering. With a lawyer working with them, they may be able to negotiate for a reasonable settlement.

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