Neonatal Subgaleal Hemorrhage

Did Your Newborn Child Suffer This Birth Injury?

Subgaleal hemorrhage, caused when the emissary veins rupture, is a potentially lethal condition affecting newborn children. This type of extracranial hemorrhage causes blood to accumulate between the skull and scalp, also known as the subgaleal space, and is one of the most dangerous brain bleeds due to the fact that nearly half of a newborn’s blood can fill that subgaleal space.

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If your child suffered from a neonatal subgaleal hemorrhage, you may be able to file a lawsuit to secure the compensation you need to cover any damages or medical bills caused by this birth injury. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers at Power Rogers & Smith have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of injured victims, and you can trust us to handle your case with the passion and dedication that has helped us recover more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements since we first opened our doors.

Causes of Subgaleal Hemorrhages

When used properly, vacuum extractors can speed up a difficult delivery without needing to perform a cesarean delivery (C-section). However, improper use can have dangerous consequences, including subgaleal hemorrhages. Approximately 90 percent of all neonatal subgaleal hemorrhages are caused when a medical professional improperly uses a vacuum extractor when assisting the birth. Improper uses that can lead to this type of birth injury include:

  • Pulling with excessive force
  • Applying the vacuum extractor with excessive force
  • Improper placement of the vacuum extractor’s suction cup on the newborn’s head
  • Leaving the vacuum extractor’s suction cup on the newborn’s head for an excessive amount of time
  • Attempting to use the vacuum extractor too many times

Improper use of a vacuum extractor isn’t the only cause of a subgaleal hemorrhage – a variety of traumatic events during labor and delivery, like improper use of forceps when assisting a difficult birth, can also cause a subgaleal hemorrhage – but, it is the most common. If a vacuum extractor is used to assist with a newborn’s delivery, medical professionals need to constantly monitor the baby’s red blood cell count, the blood’s ability to clot, the head size, and the baby’s vital signs.

If not diagnosed and treated immediately, newborns suffering from a subgaleal hemorrhage can go into shock. If the bleeding is allowed to continue, the affected area in the newborn’s head will continue to swell, and the blood loss will likely result in the newborn having a rapid heart rate, pale skin, lethargy, difficulty feeding, difficulty breathing, and even seizures.

Risks and Treatment

Newborns who suffer from a subgaleal hemorrhage, if not treated properly, have an increased risk of suffering from:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Seizure disorders
  • Abnormally elevated bilirubin levels
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Developmental delays

Treatment for subgaleal hemorrhages requires the aggressive administration of blood products like packed red blood cells and frozen plasma to prevent the newborn from going into shock as a result of low blood pressure. Continuous coagulation and bleeding problems can be treated through the administration of saline, but it may be necessary to perform surgery on the newborn in order to remove the excess blood collected in the subgaleal space.

Approximately one out of every four newborns who suffer from subgaleal hemorrhages die according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) (PDF). In a public health advisory released over 18 years ago detailing the risks of using a vacuum extractor to assist with deliveries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that:

“While no instrumented delivery is risk free, we are concerned that some health care professionals who use vacuum assisted delivery devices, or those who care for these infants following delivery, may not be aware that the device may produce life-threatening complications.”

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Hire The Experienced Attorney You Need Today

If your newborn suffered a neonatal subgaleal hemorrhage, you may be eligible to file a claim to seek the compensation you need to pay for medical care as well as any other damages that may occur. The birth injury attorneys at Power Rogers & Smith have more than two decades of experience fighting for the rights of our clients and have recovered more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. Request a free case evaluation through our online form, or give us a call at (312) 313-0202 to set up a meeting with one of our birth injury lawyers.