What is Cephalohematoma?
A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood that forms between the skull and the scalp of a newborn. It is caused by bleeding from blood vessels that are torn during childbirth.It refers to the collection of blood beneath the skin on the skull, specifically between the skull bone and the fibrous covering known as the periosteum. This condition is typically caused by trauma or injury during childbirth, particularly when there is pressure on the baby’s head during delivery.
Cephalohematomas are relatively common, affecting about 1 in 20 newborns. They are more common in babies who are born large for their gestational age, who have a difficult delivery, or who are delivered using forceps or a vacuum extractor. Cephalohematoma usually develops within the first few days after birth and is characterized by a raised, soft, or fluctuant swelling on the infant’s head. It typically appears as a well-defined, localized area of discoloration, often with a noticeable bulge. The most common location for cephalohematoma is on one side of the head, often over the parietal bone.
Factors Causing Cephalohematoma
The primary cause of cephalohematoma is the rupture of blood vessels between the skull and the periosteum due to the pressure exerted during delivery. This can happen when there is the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, prolonged labor, or when the baby’s head comes into contact with the mother’s pelvic bones. Cephalohematoma does not involve any injury to the brain itself, as it is confined to the outer layers of the skull.
Though investigators are unaware as to why some babies are more prone to developing cephalohematomas, there are several risk factors to consider. These include:
- Delivery method: Babies born by vaginal delivery or with the aid of an instrument like forceps or vacuum tend to have a higher risk for developing cephalohematomas.
- Maternal age: Teenage or elderly mothers tend to be at a higher risk of delivering a baby with cephalohematoma.
- Sexual Orientation: Mothers who are pregnant with female fetuses also tend to be at a higher risk.
- Delivery time: Cephalohematomas are more likely to occur in a baby delivered late after the due date.
Though it is normal to be concerned about seeing cephalohematomas, these conditions are not often a cause of concern when approached with reference to the pregnancy and delivery process. Therefore it is important for parents to remain observant and to ask healthcare professionals about the complications during the process.
Symptoms of Cephalohematoma
Cephalohematomas are usually painless and do not require any treatment. They will usually go away on their own within a few weeks. In some cases, the blood in the cephalohematoma may become infected. This is rare, but it can be serious. If you notice any signs of infection, such as fever, redness, or swelling, you should contact your doctor.
Here are some of the symptoms of cephalohematoma:
- Swelling: Cephalohematoma presents as a raised lump or swelling on the baby’s head. It is typically well-defined and feels soft or fluctuant to the touch.
- Location: The swelling is usually localized and confined to a specific area of the skull. The most common location is on one side of the head, often over the parietal bone.
- Color changes: Initially, the swelling may appear discolored, with a reddish or bluish tint. As time passes, the color may change to yellow or become more like the surrounding skin tone.
Cephalohematoma is a condition limited to the outer layers of the skull, and it does not involve the brain or neurological complications. However, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional if you notice any swelling or abnormalities on your newborn’s head to confirm the diagnosis and receive appropriate guidance.
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If medical negligence is proven, a birth injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for the damages caused by cephalohematoma or other birth injuries. This may include medical expenses, future medical care, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other related damages. The statute of limitations for filing a birth injury lawsuit varies from state to state, so it is important to act quickly. Pacific Attorney Group and its team of California birth injury lawyers can help you understand your rights and options and protect your child’s interests.