Cephalohematoma Birth Injury
Cephalohematoma is a common birth condition that a newborn baby can develop from the labor and delivery process. About 2% of all babies develop Cephalohematoma during or after birth.
It can be difficult for parents to see their baby suffer from Cephalohematoma or other birth injuries. If your baby has experienced a birth injury or any complication due to a doctor’s negligence, you should consult with an attorney.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience handling severe, complex cases. We have obtained over $250 million in settlements for our personal injury clients.
Our birth injury attorneys are committed to providing the best possible representation to our personal injury clients. Call us at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you a free consultation.
What Is a Cephalohematoma Birth Injury on the Baby’s Head?
Newborn Cephalohematoma is a birth injury caused by childbirth head trauma. It is a type of hematoma involving blood collection from ruptured blood vessels in the periosteum, the connective tissue covering the skull.
The baby’s brain is not at risk because the pooled blood is on the skull. Because the bleeding is slow, it can take between hours and a few weeks after delivery for the Cephalohematoma to form.
Newborn Cephalohematoma is a minor injury that will usually resolve independently, but complications can occur. Most babies that develop Cephalohematoma will make a full recovery.
The infant may have acute infant hematoma if symptoms occur almost immediately. This severe case of hematoma must be treated quickly, or it may lead to chronic infant hematoma.
Acute infant hematoma left untreated can lead to brain damage or death.
Difference Between Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma
Caput succedaneum and Cephalohematoma are similar conditions in that both involve a noticeable bump on the baby’s scalp. The main difference between the two head trauma birth injuries is the type of build-up that is causing the baby’s head to swell.
Cephalohematoma is when blood collects from the rupture of small blood vessels between the baby’s skull bone and the periosteum of the skull bone. The blood pools and forms a bump under the skin of the scalp.
Caput succedaneum occurs when the pressure from delivery creates swelling of the baby’s scalp with a subcutaneous fluid collection. Caput succedaneum is a birth injury that does not involve ruptured blood vessels.
Risk Factors That May Contribute to Cephalohematoma and Birth Injuries
Newborn Cephalohematoma and birth injuries occur due to various factors during the labor and delivery process. During delivery, pressure and external trauma to the baby’s head can damage and rupture the delicate blood vessels under the scalp.
Assisted Delivery Devices That Increase Risk of Cephalohematoma
The most common risk factor for newborn Cephalohematoma is the use of vacuum extractors or forceps during vaginal delivery.
If the mother’s uterine contractions are not pushing the baby through the birth canal, the doctor may use vacuum extraction to suction the baby’s head and assist in the delivery.
These medical devices may put more pressure on the newborn’s head, which increases the risk of newborn Cephalohematomas.
Fetal macrosomia is a medical term that refers to a baby that grows over 9 lbs during gestation. These bigger babies will have more trouble and likely experience more pressure traveling through the birth canal.
Weak uterine contractions can result in prolonged labor. Newborn Cephalohematomas will usually occur when the baby’s head endures an excess amount of pressure from the labor contractions for an extended period.
This pressure will cause an infant to undergo more stress in the birth canal, leading to a birth injury, such as Cephalohematoma.
Baby May Hit the Mother’s Pelvic Bone
Cephalohematoma is likely if the infant’s head hits against the mother’s pelvis before entering the birth canal. The force of the contractions continues to push the head against the pelvis until it makes its way to the birth canal.
Therefore, the baby’s head hitting the pelvic bone and the added pressure of contractions combined will likely result in a head injury.
Cephalohematoma is likely if the baby is big and the head is more significant than the mother’s pelvic area. Average-sized fetuses are also at risk of newborn Cephalohematoma if their mother’s pelvis is small.
Other Common Risk Factors That Can Contribute to Cephalohematoma
The risk factors listed above are common in cases of Cephalohematoma, but there are also other possible causes. Other factors that contribute to the baby’s risk of developing Cephalohematoma are:
- Mother is carrying multiple infants
- The fetus is in an abnormal position (breech or posterior position)
- Premature birth
- Epidurals that numbs the mother’s lower body and affect the baby being pushed out
A baby’s head undergoes a lot of pressure under these risk factors, but there are steps that doctors are trained to perform to avoid Cephalohematoma or another birth injury.
Symptoms of Infant Cephalohematoma
The most visible, common symptom of newborn Cephalohematoma is the soft bulge on the back of the head. The pooled blood in the scalp will begin to calcify, and the bulge will become denser.
Bone deposits may form and harden around the bump, as well. The calcified blood will then dissolve away, and the bulge will shrink.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Difficulty feeding
- High pitched crying
- Pain in the skull area
- Increased head circumference
- Soft spot and bulge on the head
There are other internal symptoms and potential complications that newborn Cephalohematoma may cause.
Infection From Cephalohematoma
An infection can occur in the blood build-up and lead to systemic disease. This type of infection will require prompt medical intervention.
An infection caused by Cephalohematomas, such as sepsis or meningitis, can result in death if left untreated.
Inflammation around the bulge of the baby’s head and fever indicates an infection is present. A doctor may need to drain the blood and have the infant undergo antibiotic treatment in some rare cases.
Jaundice and Kernicterus
Newborn Cephalohematoma may also result in a higher risk of a baby developing newborn jaundice. This condition is caused by excess bilirubin, a waste product of red blood cells that are broken down.
Bilirubin is a substance that causes the baby’s skin and eyes to have a yellow color. If a baby has excessive bilirubin levels, a doctor may perform a blood transfusion.
If newborn jaundice is left untreated, the baby may develop Kernicterus which causes permanent brain damage. Kernicterus occurs when excess bilirubin damages the brain or central nervous system.
Anemia From Newborn Cephalohematoma
It is also common for newborn Cephalohematomas to have anemia or low red blood cell levels. The anemia can occur due to blood loss from the blood build-up. If a baby develops anemia due to a low red blood cell count, it may be necessary to perform a blood transfusion.
Fractures to the Skull
Fractures to the skull are a common complication that can occur with Cephalohematoma. Approximately 25% of cases of Cephalohematoma involve fractures.
Treatment for a fracture usually includes rest and monitoring the skull by a doctor to make sure it heals properly.
Treatment for Cephalohematoma and Potential Complications
If you see a bump develop on your baby’s head, you should consult with a doctor immediately. The doctor will be able to perform imaging scans to identify where the bleeding is in the head and the size of the hematoma.
Testing will be able to identify if there are any skull fractures. The doctor will also determine if there are any complications associated with the Cephalohematoma and if he will need to perform surgery.
A doctor may need to request additional tests to monitor the newborn baby. In most cases, infant Cephalohematoma requires rest and no active treatment.
An early diagnosis will put your infant in the best position to avoid any potential or further complications associated with Cephalohematoma.
Leaving the bump alone is usually enough, and the swelling should go away. In cases where an infant has jaundice, light therapy may be recommended.
Medical Malpractice and Newborn Cephalohematoma
Medical negligence is demonstrated if a doctor fails to take the necessary steps to monitor and deliver an infant. There have been instances where a doctor misuses vacuum extractors during delivery damaging the baby’s head and overall health.
During the labor and delivery process, vacuum extraction and other tools increase the risk of developing Cephalohematoma. A doctor must exercise proper care and handling when using these devices to assist delivery.
A doctor who uses too much force with a device during delivery can cause a rupture of blood vessels. An infant’s head should also be adequately examined and monitored so that the steps for prompt and proper treatment will be taken.
A doctor demonstrates medical negligence if they fail to follow the necessary steps to ensure a baby’s safety or recovery.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
The birth of a newborn baby is a happy time for many families. A birth injury that could have been prevented can result in future medical expenses and stress.
If your baby has suffered from Cephalohematoma or another preventable birth injury due to medical negligence, you should consult with an attorney. You may be able to recover damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Contact our Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC legal team for a case review. Our Chicago law group has the expertise needed to represent you and guide you through the process.
We are committed to getting you the financial compensation you deserve for your medical malpractice case. Call us at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you to speak with one of our attorneys.
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