Intraventricular Hemorrhage

Also known as: IVH, intraventricular hemorrhage of the newborn, intracerebral hemorrhage, bleeding into the brain.

What is intraventricular hemorrhage?

IVH of the newborn is bleeding into the fluid filled cavities (ventricles) of the baby’s brain. It occurs most frequently in babies born prematurely, particularly if they are less than 30 weeks gestation, because baby’s blood vessels mature and get stronger later in pregnancy.

There are four types or “grades” of IVH. Types 1 and 2 are usually small bleeds and don't cause significant long term problems. Grades 3 and 4 involve more severe bleeding.

What causes intraventricular hemorrhage?

The smaller and the more premature the baby, the less developed and weaker the blood vessels are in the brain, and the more likely they will bleed. Rarely, full term babies may also have IVH.

IVH frequently occurs in babies with respiratory distress syndrome, a blood pressure which is unstable, or other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms of intraventricular hemorrhage? 

There may be no symptoms.

Symptoms which usually appear a few days after birth may include:

  • a high-pitched cry
  • lethargy
  • seizures (and other abnormal movements)
  • poor muscle tone
  • weak suck
  • trouble breathing (with pauses-apnoea)
  • changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • and a pale or bluish skin color.

What are intraventricular hemorrhage care options?

There is no way to prevent IVH so treatment is primarily aimed at stabilizing the baby and managing the symptoms. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: November 15, 2021 04:08 PM

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