Cephalohematoma Infant Birth Injury


Birth injuries are, unfortunately, much more common than most people think. During a child’s birth, injury may occur for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is medical malpractice. When a baby’s doctor engages in medical negligence during the birthing process, this could cause a birth injury. Several types of birth injuries exist, such as cerebral palsy and shoulder dystocia, but cephalohematoma injuries are among the most common.

At Lipton Law, we understand how devastating it can be to realize that your baby has endured childbirth head trauma. While you may not know the full extent of the damage yet, birth injuries have the potential to cause lasting complications for newborns. If your baby suffered from newborn cephalohematoma as a result of medical malpractice, you might have a case. To schedule your free initial consultation with us, please call our Michigan personal injury lawyers at 248-557-1688 today.

What Is Newborn Cephalohematoma?

Newborn cephalohematoma is a birth injury caused by trauma to a baby’s head during the birthing process. More specifically, it results from a buildup of blood vessels that have ruptured in the baby’s head. The pooled blood resulting from the ruptured blood vessels is referred to as a hematoma. When hematomas like this form on an infant’s head, it causes a visible collection of blood, usually around the top of the skull or the baby’s scalp.

This pooled blood tends to put pressure on the baby’s brain, which can lead to disabilities or even fatal complications without proper treatment. Even though newborn cephalohematoma is one of the most common birth injuries that rarely results in serious complications, it should not be taken lightly. A severe newborn hematoma can lead to long-term complications.

Cephalohematoma vs Caput Succedaneum

Caput succedaneum is another birth injury that affects the baby’s head, and people often confuse it with cephalohematoma. The two conditions have notable differences. While they can both result from pressure on the infant’s head during birth, caput does not involve ruptured blood vessels. Both conditions involve swelling of the newborn’s scalp.

They also tend to develop from similar complications during labor and delivery. The effects of caput usually clear up after a few days, while the effects of newborn hematomas can affect the baby for weeks or months. Without prompt medical intervention, however, either condition could become a more serious problem.

Is Cephalohematoma a Birth Injury?

cephalohematoma newborn

Yes. When a baby’s head endures too much pressure during labor and delivery, the delicate blood vessels in the head may rupture. When this happens, blood pools under the scalp, which can put pressure on the brain. If left alone for too long, the pool of red blood cells can harden. Newborn cephalohematoma also increases a baby’s risk of developing newborn jaundice, anemia, infections, and other potential complications.

Types of Newborn Cephalohematomas

There are two main types of newborn cephalohematomas: acute infant hematoma and chronic infant hematoma.

  • Acute infant hematoma: Symptoms of this form of hematoma typically show immediately after birth or a few hours after. If left untreated, this can turn into a chronic hematoma.
  • Chronic infant hematoma: Symptoms of the hematoma may not show for a few days or even a few weeks.

After any form of birth trauma, it is imperative that the child’s pediatrician addresses and treats their symptoms as soon as possible. Failing to do so can lead to significant health complications in the future.

What Causes Cephalohematoma?

cephalohematoma infant

Newborn cephalohematoma usually happens during the labor and delivery process. The small blood vessels in a baby’s head and scalp are extremely delicate. Any pressure or trauma on the baby’s head can result in a newborn cephalohematoma diagnosis. One common source of cephalohematoma occurs when the baby’s skull collides with the mother’s pelvic area bones as they pass through the birth canal.

Other potential causes of newborn cephalohematoma include the following.

When a doctor fails to adhere to best practices during labor and delivery, this could result in injuries to the baby, the mother, or both. Although birth injuries can still happen when a doctor does everything right, medical errors can make them much worse.

If the baby is large or has a large head, this can result in difficult or prolonged labor. Additionally, if the baby presents in an abnormal position, this further complicates the process. Sometimes, the mother will have weak uterine contractions, which tends to prolong the labor period. Other potential complications can arise if there are multiple babies to deliver at once.

Doctors sometimes use birth assisting tools, such as vacuum extraction devices or forceps. Vacuum extraction tools and forceps can put too much pressure on a baby’s body, which can lead to cephalohematoma, skull fractures, and other complications.

Symptoms of Cephalohematoma

Common newborn cephalohematoma symptoms include the following.

  • Bulge or bump on the baby’s head
  • Pooling of blood under the scalp, causing a red appearance
  • Over time, the soft bulge begins to harden, and it eventually shrinks.
  • It is also possible that the baby develops anemia. Anemia occurs when someone has a low red blood cell count.
  • Jaundice can also occur. This is the yellow skin tint that many newborns have. It is a common symptom for newborns, regardless of whether or not they suffered a birth injury.
  • Infections

Newborn Cephalohematoma Risk Factors

infant cephalohematoma

The most common risk factors for newborn cephalohematoma include the following.

  • Having multiple babies at once (such as twins or triplets)
  • Birth assisting devices
  • Fetal macrosomia, which is the technical term for babies that weigh more than 8 lbs 13 oz
  • Administering an epidural to the mother (This can make it difficult for the baby to pass through the birth canal.)
  • Difficult deliveries
  • Prolonged deliveries in which the baby remains in the birth canal for too long

Although cephalohematoma is usually a minor injury, it has the potential to change a baby’s life forever. If you experienced a difficult delivery and your baby suffered injuries in the birth canal, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. Contact a Michigan birth injury lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve for your baby’s suffering.

Infant Cephalohematoma Prognosis

A prognosis of a disease or sickness is basically the outlook. It refers to the severity of the condition, the likely course it will take, and sometimes the risk of death. Luckily, most babies do not suffer from any lifelong conditions or problems from cephalohematoma. However, should your baby develop any unusual symptoms, we highly recommend speaking with a doctor as soon as possible.

How to Diagnose Cephalohematoma in Infants

Doctors usually begin with a physical exam of the baby. They may diagnose the cephalohematoma based on the bulge alone, but many doctors request additional tests just to be sure. They may order any of the following imaging tests to diagnose cephalohematoma.

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • Ultrasounds

How to Treat Infant Cephalohematoma

cephalohematoma vs caput

As we mentioned before, most cases of cephalohematoma require no treatment and resolve on their own. After a few days or a few weeks, the bump should completely resolve. However, in more severe cases, the doctor may choose to drain the pool of blood. If the skull bones become fractured, or if the baby develops jaundice, anemia, or an infection, further treatments may be necessary.

  • For anemia, the doctor may opt for a blood transfusion.
  • For an infection, the doctor will closely monitor your baby and put them on antibiotic treatment.
  • Newborn jaundice also requires careful monitoring and treatment.
  • Sometimes, hardened bone deposits can form around the collection of blood. These must be carefully removed.

How Long Does It Take for Infant Cephalohematomas to Resolve?

For milder cases, you will likely see a full recovery in a few days. If the cephalohematoma was more serious, it may take a couple of weeks for the swelling to subside. If the child suffered a severe case of cephalohematoma, it may take as long as three months to completely resolve.

File a Birth Injury Lawsuit for Newborn Cephalohematoma

At Lipton Law, we understand that childbirth is a very exciting and celebratory time for parents. Unfortunately, medical malpractice can spoil this special moment by causing harm to the baby. If your baby suffered from cephalohematoma and required special treatment because of the negligent actions of a doctor, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Michigan birth injury lawyers at Lipton Law today. To schedule your free consultation with us, please call 248-557-1688 today.