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Intraventricular Hemorrhage in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Intraventricular hemorrhage is bleeding in the brain. This type of bleeding can happen in premature babies, usually in the first week after birth.

If the amount of bleeding is small, your baby should have little or no brain damage. More bleeding raises the risk that fluid will build up in the brain (hydrocephalus). The extra fluid can increase pressure in the baby's brain, causing brain damage and mental and physical problems.

There isn't a treatment to stop this type of bleeding. Instead, treatment focuses on watching for signs of fluid buildup, keeping your baby's blood pressure steady, giving fluids, and helping your baby breathe.

If fluid buildup occurs, your baby may have a lumbar puncture, receive medicines, or have a procedure to place a shunt. A shunt is a flexible tube placed in the brain to drain the fluid. Draining fluid helps control the pressure in the brain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

General health

  • If your doctor prescribed medicines for your baby, give them as directed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • If your baby gets home oxygen, follow instructions for its use.
  • Wash your hands before holding your baby.
  • Do not smoke or expose your baby to smoke. Smoking increases the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, asthma, colds, and pneumonia. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child stops breathing, turns blue, or becomes unconscious. Start rescue breathing or follow instructions given by emergency services while you wait for help.
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include the chest sinking in, using belly muscles to breathe, or nostrils flaring while your child is struggling to breathe.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of fluid buildup in the brain. Signs of fluid buildup (hydrocephalus) include:
    • Your child's head gets bigger very quickly.
    • The soft spot (fontanelle) on your child's head feels firm or bulges out.
    • Your child is irritable or sleeps too much.
    • Your child is vomiting a lot.
    • Your child eats very little.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.