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Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is bleeding into the spaces of a baby’s brain. IVH is most common in premature babies.
IVH may cause damage to brain tissue and lead to long-term development problems.
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IVH is caused by the rupture of immature or fragile blood vessels in the brain. It is not clear why this happens, but changes in blood pressure may play a role.
Factors that increase your baby’s chance of developing IVH include:
It often occurs in the first 48 hours after birth. In many cases, there are no visible signs of IVH. Symptoms that may occur include:
A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look for any signs of a brain injury.
An ultrasound will be used to make images of the brain structures, blood vessels, and blood flow in the brain.
Other tests, like blood tests, may be done to look for anemia and causes of the bleeding.
There are 4 grades of intraventricular hemorrhage that are based on severity:
In most cases, the bleeding gradually stops. Treatment options include:
Certain procedures or surgery may need to be done to relieve pressure in the brain:
If you are at risk of having a premature baby, you may be given medication to decrease the chance of IVH.
American Academy of Neurology
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Caring for Kids—Canadian Pediatric Society
Ballabh P. Intraventricular hemorrhage in premature infants: mechanism of disease. Pediatr Res. 2010;67(1):1-8.
Intraventricular hemorrhage. Stanford Children's Health website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=intraventricular-hemorrhage-90-P02608. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Intraventricular hemorrhage. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/intraventricular-hemorrhage. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Intraventricular hemorrhage. About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children website. Available at: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/PrematureBabies/AboutPrematureBabies/BrainandBehaviour/Pages/Intraventricular-Hemorrhage-IVH.aspx. Accessed September 25, 2017.
Intraventricular hemorrhage of infancy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116485/Intraventricular-hemorrhage-of-infancy. Updated August 22, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2017.
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 6/14/2017