Causes & Treatment for Cephalohematoma in Newborns
The longer it takes to deliver a baby, the more likely it is complications will occur during the process. Prolonged labor is related to many different types of birth injuries, such as injuries caused by a lack of oxygen, intracranial hemorrhage, and shoulder dystocia. Cephalohematoma is another type of birth injury that often occurs in complicated or prolonged deliveries.
Cephalohematoma occurs in approximately 1% and 2% of all live births and often occurs in cases when the baby is too large to move through the birth canal, the baby is in an unusual position, multiple babies are being delivered, or labor becomes prolonged for another reason, such as weak contractions. Since birth-assisting tools like forceps and vacuums may be used in these sorts of situations to help deliver the baby, cephalohematoma can also be the result of those tools being used.
Cephalohematoma occurs when blood vessels in the head are damaged, causing blood to collect between the child’s scalp and skull. Externally, this will appear as a bump on the child’s head and typically shows up within a day after birth.
While it is absolutely alarming to see a bump on your child’s head, the good news is that in most cases, cephalohematoma is completely harmless and is likely to clear up on its own over time without any medical intervention or long-term health problems. Since the blood doesn’t collect underneath the skull, cephalohematoma doesn’t impact the brain. In some circumstances, a doctor might recommend draining the cephalohematoma, but that’s a practice that is generally avoided since it can increase the risk of infections and some of those infections can be very serious. If draining a cephalohematoma is necessary, a high level of care needs to be taken to prevent infections.
However, in some cases, cephalohematoma can result in health complications like anemia and jaundice. If anemia occurs, the baby may require a blood transfusion. The risk of jaundice comes when the blood from the cephalohematoma breaks down and reabsorbs back into the body. When this happens, it can cause the child’s bilirubin levels to increase, resulting in jaundice. If treatment for jaundice begins early, it should easily clear up without any long-term issues. But if jaundice goes untreated and bilirubin levels are allowed to build up, it can potentially cause a type of brain damage known as kernicterus, which can result in problems like cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.
If your child suffered complications from cephalohematoma, it’s very important to speak to a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. The sad reality of far too many birth injury cases is that they very likely could have been prevented. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to speak to a birth trauma lawyer who will be able to answer your questions and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today to get started.