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Birth Injury

Types of Infant Brain Damage [infographic]

January 25, 2021

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain hemorrhages, kernicterus, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and hydrocephalus are common types of birth-related brain damage. They can occur as a result of oxygen deprivation, untreated jaundice, and physical trauma during childbirth. Here is a closer look at the different types of brain damage.

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

HIE is one of the most severe birth injuries. It occurs when an infant’s brain is deprived of sufficient blood and oxygen, causing brain cells to die. Babies who have HIE can develop conditions like:

Subgaleal Hemorrhage

This is a collection of blood in the area between the scalp and the skull. This blood can spread and cause hypovolemic shock, which can lead to permanent brain damage. Most neonatal subgaleal hemorrhages are caused by the negligent use of obstetrical forceps or vacuum extractors during childbirth.


Newborns often appear jaundice which is caused by elevated bilirubin. Bilirubin levels can cause more than jaundice, and if it becomes high enough can lead to permanent brain damage. Kernicterus should not happen and can be grounds for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

PVL occurs when there is damage to the brain’s white matter, which facilitates the transmission of electrical signals and protects the brain tissue. Babies with PVL have an increased risk for cerebral palsy and developmental delays. The reduced flow of blood and oxygen to a developing fetus is thought to be the leading cause of PVL.


This occurs when there is an excessive buildup of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) in the brain. When the normal CSF outflow is blocked, the fluid can back up into the brain’s ventricle cavities and put excess pressure on the brain. External trauma during childbirth is often the reason behind this brain injury.

Significance of Brain Injury

Treating infant brain damage can be costly even for parents with excellent health insurance. Families that suspect their babies’ birth injuries were caused by medical errors or negligence can file lawsuits to help ensure all desired medical and caretaking expenses, as well as loss of earnings, are covered. If you have any concerns about your child’s birth injury, contact us at (312) 236-4146. 

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Goldberg
Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldberg has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.