Cephalohematomas occur when the blood vessels on an infant’s head are damaged. The damaged blood vessels release blood and the blood then pools between the baby’s skin and skull bone. While cephalohematomas may look frightening, they do not affect the infant’s brain and they generally do not result in developmental delays unless there are other injuries or complications. In many cases these are minor injuries that go away without treatment. However, sometimes serious complications can occur.
Cephalohematoma Symptoms and Diagnosis
You may suspect that your baby has a cephalohematoma if you notice a bulge on the back of the baby’s head. Within a few weeks of birth, the blood may calcify and the bulge may get hard. If you notice this on your infant’s head then it is important to see your baby’s pediatrician for a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
The doctor will likely do a full physical examination of your child to confirm that the bulge is a cephalohematoma and not another medical condition. If the doctor has any concern that it could be something other than a cephalohematoma then diagnostic tests such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds may be ordered.
Potential Complications of Cephalohematomas
Some of the potential complications from cephalohematomas can be serious. These complications include:
- Infections and abscess formations. This is more likely to occur if a doctor needs to treat the cephalohematoma by draining the excess blood. Infections can result in lasting medical complications and even death for newborns.
- Jaundice. As the excess blood breaks down, the baby’s bilirubin levels rise which can result in jaundice. Jaundice is typically treatable. However, if it is left untreated then a baby could suffer brain damage, hearing loss, or cerebral palsy.
- Anemia. Anemia, or a low red blood cell count, may occur if there is an extensive buildup of blood in the baby’s cephalohematoma. In these cases, blood transfusions may be necessary. If anemia is not treated then a baby could suffer a permanent injury.
Additionally, a cephalohematoma may occur with other birth injuries. If your child has a cephalohematoma then your child may have also suffered a skull fracture or head trauma. While the cephalohematoma itself may not result in any lasting birth injuries, these other associated injuries can be serious and can result in developmental delays.
When Cephalohematomas Are Birth Injuries
Cephalohematomas can occur during the normal birth process. However, in some cases, cephalohematomas are caused by medical negligence. This could happen, if for example:
- The baby is too big for the birth canal and the doctor failed to recognize the risk and prescribe safer alternatives for delivery.
- Birthing assistance tools, such as vacuums and forceps, were used negligently.
Additionally, the failure to accurately diagnose and treat cephalohematomas can be medical negligence. This can result in unnecessary medical treatments or other complications that interfere with a baby’s health.
Do You Need to File a Birth Injury Case?
No one wants to file a birth injury case after the birth of their child, and most parents of children who suffer cephalohematomas will never have to file such cases. Even if your child suffered a cephalohematoma because of medical negligence, you do not need to file a birth injury case if your child healed completely without invasive medical treatment.
However, if the cephalohematoma resulted in a serious health complication for your child that caused lasting disabilities or that required painful or extensive treatment, then a birth injury lawsuit and recovery may be an important part of your child’s future. A birth injury case may result in the recovery of damages that include compensation for your child’s pain, emotional trauma, medical expenses, and other losses.
For more information about how to help your child recover after a birth injury, please read our FREE guide, Family First: How to Get the Help You Need After a Birth Injury to Your Child Happens in Kentucky. Contact us via this website or by phone to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced birth injury lawyers.