During the first week after birth, some
premature infants develop bleeding in the brain
(intraventricular hemorrhage), for which there is no known treatment.
The more immature the
brain, the more fragile the brain's blood vessels and the more sensitive they
are to changes in blood pressure. So extremely premature infants are at the
greatest risk for this problem.
Regardless of an
gestational age at birth, the risk of bleeding in the brain drops significantly after the first 72 hours of life and is
negligible after 7 days of age. Very premature infants typically have an
ultrasound of the head (cranial ultrasound) in the first few
days after birth to check for bleeding in the brain. Those who show signs
of bleeding are periodically checked thereafter.
measures that can reduce the risk of bleeding in the brain
Thilo EH, Rosenberg AA (2011). The preterm infant and the late preterm infant sections of The newborn infant. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 20th ed., pp. 30–42. New York: McGraw-Hill.
April 14, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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