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Intraventricular Hemorrhage in Children: Care Instructions


Intraventricular hemorrhage is bleeding in the brain.

If the amount of bleeding is small, there should be little or no injury to the brain. But if there is more bleeding, too much fluid can build up in the brain. This is called hydrocephalus. The extra fluid increases the pressure in the baby's brain. This may injure the brain and lead to mental and physical problems.

There isn't a treatment to stop this type of bleeding. But your doctor will watch your baby closely for signs of extra fluid in the brain. Your doctor will also keep your baby's blood pressure steady and help your baby breathe.

If fluid buildup occurs, your baby may get a lumbar puncture or another procedure to drain the fluid and reduce pressure. During a lumbar puncture, a doctor removes some spinal fluid. If your baby gets a shunt, a doctor places a flexible tube in the brain. This tube helps to drain the fluid.

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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 advice 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 advice 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 advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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.