Cerebral hemorrhage in babies

Brain haemorrhages in babies are more common than you think. A cerebral hemorrhage occurs in 1 in 4,000 newborns. Of which 1 in 3 babies are born prematurely. The fact that brain hemorrhages are often diagnosed in premature babies is because an ultrasound examination is almost never performed on babies born at term. And therefore, brain hemorrhages in newborns are almost never diagnosed.


There are various causes of a cerebral hemorrhage. It may be due to a clot in the blood vessels of the brain. This mainly occurs in older people. It can also be caused by a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, this usually occurs in babies. This can be due to various factors. The most common are: if the mother has had diabetes or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, a newborn can suffer a brain hemorrhage. Due to lack of oxygen at birth, due to the use of a vacuum pump during delivery, when the baby has blood poisoning. Up to 32 weeks of pregnancy, the brain is less well protected by the surrounding tissue, which means damage can occur more easily. Until approximately 38 weeks of pregnancy, the brain still consists of a jelly-like mass through which veins and capillaries run. Then things really get twisty.

Recognize cerebral hemorrhage

In newborns, the symptoms of a cerebral hemorrhage are not always clear. Epilepsy attacks are often the first signs of a cerebral hemorrhage. Short periods of not breathing, feeding problems, spitting up, heart rate slowdowns and temperature changes and . Quiet behavior and irritability can also indicate that the baby has had a brain hemorrhage. Many symptoms can therefore only be recognized by hospital equipment.


How is a cerebral hemorrhage diagnosed? If the pediatrician suspects a cerebral hemorrhage, an ultrasound of the head will first be performed. If this shows that there is bleeding, the baby will remain under the supervision of the pediatrician. After about 2 weeks, another ultrasound scan of the head will be made to see whether the bleeding is still there, whether it is draining, or whether it is still the same size or even bigger. If the bleeding is no longer there, no follow-up scans will be made. If the bleeding is still smaller, the same or larger, an MRI scan will be made to gain more clarity about the location of the bleeding and the possible consequences that the parents can take into account. Often there is nothing they can do about it and parents can do nothing more than wait. If the child has serious bleeding, a drain will be inserted so that the blood can be drained. You can often recognize this by hydrocephalus. There are several possible consequences after the MRI results.


It often happens that the baby is not left with anything. That is of course the best outcome that parents can wish for after a period of uncertainty. But it may also be that the baby will benefit from it. This can be different things and depends on where the bleeding was and what was damaged. The baby may have difficulty learning later, have a poorer memory or have attention and concentration problems. The child may also develop behavioral problems such as impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Furthermore, the child may experience a delay in motor development. That is why it is a milestone for parents with a newborn who has had a brain haemorrhage when the child smiles for the first time, sits up independently and starts walking. As a result, this can often only be ruled out after 12-18 months or, of course, by means of an MRI scan. If it appears that the baby is at risk of delays in motor development, he/she will also be supervised by a pediatric physiotherapist. In the worst case, the child can also suffer from epilepsy or even severe spasticity. But as mentioned in the first sentence, it very often happens that the baby is left with nothing. Always try to look at how the baby is developing at that moment.



If the baby is at risk of developmental delay in motor skills, he/she will receive physiotherapy from an early age. This provides control over how he/she develops and gives them extra encouragement to develop.

Speech therapy

If it turns out later in life that your baby is developing a delay in speaking and swallowing, they will come to the speech therapist. He/she can stimulate speech development and swallowing with certain exercises.


Medicines such as epilepsy can have various consequences. This will then be prescribed to you by your pediatrician.
This text has been carefully composed. But always consult a doctor if you have this condition.

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