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Infant Head Injury

Any kind of head injury can be scary, but when the injured is a young child or baby, it becomes even harder to assess the damage, as they will probably be unable to tell you how they are feeling different from before the accident.

Infant's head held by 2 hands

The bony skull protects the very fragile brain inside, but because the skull itself does not have much skin padding over it, and this skin contains many blood vessels, it is easy for an accident to damage the skin producing what looks like way too much blood. Don't panic if this is the case, the head does bleed easily, and generally looks worse than it is. In fact whenever you have to deal with a "situation", try not to panic. Try to remain calm and collected, and when speaking to emergency personnel on the phone, remember that you need to give them accurate details of the injuries.

They are not present, and you are their eyes to begin with. The body is actually amazing, in that it can help you by staying calm, doing the right things for quite a while. I remember the case of a 911 operator who by sheer luck received the call that her son was injured. She was able to remain calm, give all the correct advice to those helping, despite the emotional turmoil she had to have been going through. If your infant or baby is injured, there are bound to be a lot of different feelings dashing around your head, feelings of guilt, perhaps for letting this happen, even though there was probably nothing you could do to avoid the injury. Accidents happen all the time, and dwelling on blame will not help your infant recover any quicker. Your baby needs your calm attention to deal with the medical problems, and when they see you are calm, they will likely be calmer too.

Now, don't worry too much about a large bump appearing after a blow to your infant's head. Using ice on the area and perhaps a little pressure will soon have that bump reducing in size. What you need to be concerned about is if there is any damage to the brain itself, and this is harder to tell. There may be a concussion, caused by a shaking of the brain inside the skull, as a result of the bump, and the infant may even fall unconscious. If your infant or child is unconscious, even for a few seconds, it indicates a bump strong enough to cause blood to seep out of the brain below the skull. This requires medical assistance to assess the damage done to the brain.

If you hear or see your child crying immediately after a blow to the head, this is good news, because it means they have not lost consciousness! Observe your infant for any changes in behaviour from before the accident. Remember that symptoms may take a few days before showing up, so observe carefully.

If the infant begins vomiting, make a note of how frequently. Vomiting is a symptom of head injuries, and children often do this after a trauma, either as a result of crying, coughing or shock, but excessive vomiting, more than 3 or 4 times, make indicate a more serious problem, and a trip to get medical help is needed. Because of the risk of vomiting, monitor the child to make sure they are not likely to choke.

Loss of balance is another symptom to watch for, but in an infant this can be difficult to tell. Instead, look for changes in sitting positions, changes in crawling habits, and if you are at all concerned, seek medical help. A parent's intuition is a wonderful thing, and if you are at all concerned about your infant, it is good to seek medical attention. Parents know their child best!

Check your infant's eyes. Are they unfocussed, or crossing? Is one pupil larger than the other? If so, call for help, this is not normal. In an older child they may talk about double vision, or headaches, both of which need to be assessed by a medical professional.

As a parent, it is easy to panic when your infant receives a head injury, but do not panic, infants are constantly bumping their heads on the ground as they learn to move around. Just watch out for the telling signs of a more severe head injury, and trust your instinct.

When in doubt, call for help or advice from a professional. It is always better to get your infant checked than not, if you have doubts. And in the meantime, take as many precautions as possible to avoid an infant head injury.