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 infant's 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.
Prevention measures that can reduce the risk of bleeding in the brain include:1
Last Revised: April 14, 2011
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