Definitions

Apnea means cessation of breathing. It is common for premature newborn infants to stop breathing for a few seconds. They almost always restart on their own, but occasionally they need stimulation or other drug therapy to maintain regular breathing. The heart rate often slows with apnea. This slowing of the heart rate is called bradycardia.

Bradycardia slowing of the heart rate.

Cerebral Palsy This is an abnormality of muscle control that occurs because of a brain injury. It affects muscle strength, coordination, and may cause spasticity of muscles. It may or may not be associated with mental disability. Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty with walking, speech, hearing and arm/hand coordination. The amount and type of involvement of these functions is variable and hard to predict at birth. It is an occurs in about 2 per 1000 infants.

Cognitive development is the process of becoming aware of thoughts and perceptions, characterized by understanding and the ability to reason. Children develop their cognitive ability over the first two decades of life. The ability to think about abstract concepts does not usually appear until about 6-7 years of age.

Congenital – Present before birth.

Congenital heart problems – Birth defects of the heart present at or before birth. Some heart malformations may not be apparent for several days to weeks after birth

CT scan – Computerized tomography scan. This is a specialized procedure that takes multiple X-ray pictures at various angles and then integrates all of them into pictures of high resolution. In infants and toddlers, it is most commonly used to image the brain.

Cyanosis – A bluish discoloration, of skin and mucous membranes caused by low oxygen levels in the blood.

Epilepsy - sometimes called a seizure disorder, is a chronic medical condition produced by temporary changes in the electrical function of the brain, causing seizures which affect awareness, movement, or sensation.

Encephalopathy – Abnormal functioning of the brain. It can be caused by asphyxia, kernicterus, infections, or metabolic problems.

Handedness – The tendency to use one hand more than another. Most babies start out using both hands equally, but will have developed a preference by 1 year of age.

Hemianopsia – blindness or defective  vision in one half of the visual field that can be caused by stroke.  Reading may be affected.

Hemiplegia - Paralysis on one side of the body.

Hemiparesis – Partial paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.

Hemorrhagic stroke – Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that is damaged or dead from lack of blood supply, located within an area of infarcted brain tissue, ruptures and transforms an “ischemic” stroke into a “hemorrhagic” stroke.

Hydrocephalus  -  Abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is made in cerebral ventricles, two fluid-filled areas located in the center of the brain.  When the normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid is interrupted, fluid can accumulate within the ventricles.  This can lead to increased pressure and enlargement of the ventricles, known as obstructive hydrocephalus. Abnormal re-absorption of the cerebrospinal fluid can also lead to fluid accumulation, known as communicating hydrocephalus. The accumulation of fluid puts pressure on the brain, forcing it against the skull and enlarging the ventricles. In premature infants the ventricles can enlarge without the head getting bigger.  In prematurely born infants the most common cause of the hydrocephalus is intraventricular hemorrhage.

Hypertonia -  too much muscle tone, with too much resistance to passive movement. An extreme example of this is called spasticity.

Hypotonia -  decreased muscle tone.  The infant may feel limp or “floppy” when held.  Some of these infants may even have difficulty breathing.

In Utero – Inside the womb.

Intracranial Hemorrhage – Bleeding within the skull. Bleeding most often occurs within the ventricles of premature infants (see intraventricular hemorrhage), but it
can occur anywhere within or on the outside of the brain.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) – IVH is bleeding into the ventricles (fluid-filled spaces) within the brain.  A grade is a label which describes the degree of bleeding.

  • Grade I intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) or germinal matrix hemorrhage
  • Grade II IVH:  bleeding within the ventricle itself
  • Grade III IVH:  ventricles can become enlarged and swollen by the blood.
  • Grade IV IVH or IVH:  bleeding either involves or secondarily injures the periventricular brain tissue

Microcephaly – Abnormally small head usually associated with developmental delay.

Paralysis -  loss or impairment of voluntary muscular power

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) – occurs when the ductus arteriosus in the heart does not close shortly after birth as it should. When the ductus arteriosus does not properly close after birth, it allows too much blood to flow into the lungs and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood into the kidneys, intestine and other organs.

Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) -  Cerebrospinal fluid is manufactured inside ventricles in the brain.   Periventricular tissue is on either side of these ventricles.  When the periventricular tissue does not receive an adequate blood supply, the tissue may die.  The dead brain tissue is replaced with fluid, which appears as cysts on an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan of the head.

Strabismus -  term used to describe eyes that are not straight or properly aligned.  It is a muscle disorder which causes the eyes to point in different directions.  The doctor may prescribe special glasses for the child to correct the strabismus.  If this is not successful, then surgery may be necessary.  Certain children may appear to have strabismus when they actually have an extra fold of skin near the inner eye, a broad, flat nose or eyes.  This is called pseudo or false strabismus and should disappear as the child grows older.

Stroke - A group of brain disorders involving loss of brain functions that occur when the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted.