Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is bleeding into the spaces in the brain that contain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These spaces are called ventricles.
Blood vessels in the brains of premature infants are fragile. Babies who are born more than 10 weeks early (before 30 weeks of pregnancy) are most at risk to have this bleeding within the first 5 days of life. It’s most common in babies born early who also have:
This problem can also happen in healthy babies.
Small amounts of bleeding do not usually cause any long-term damage. Severe bleeding can cause a buildup of fluid in the brain. The buildup of fluid can damage the brain, causing problems with learning, growth, and behavior.
Blood vessels grow stronger in the last 10 weeks of the pregnancy and if born early, the infant’s vessels are more fragile. Changes in blood pressure through the fragile blood vessels can cause them to break and start bleeding. Babies with lung problems who need a machine to help them breathe are more likely to have IVH. The cause is not always known.
A baby with IVH may not have any symptoms, or symptoms may include:
Every baby born more than 10 weeks early (before 30 weeks of pregnancy) is checked for IVH. Your baby may have an ultrasound scan, which uses sound waves to show pictures of the brain.
In most cases, your baby’s body will get rid of small amounts of blood over several weeks. If your baby has a buildup of fluid could damage the brain, the most common treatment is surgery to put a tube inside your baby’s body to drain the extra fluid from the brain. The tube, called a shunt, drains the fluid into the belly or chest. Your child may need several surgeries throughout his life as he grows, or if the shunt gets blocked or infected.
Your healthcare provider will treat any lung problems and infections and, if needed, help your baby breathe. Your baby may be given a blood transfusion. Your baby will be treated with medicines if he or she has seizures.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.