Causes and Symptoms of Cephalohematoma

One of the greatest tragedies parents can experience is when a birth injury happens to a healthy infant. One wrong decision by a labor and delivery team can lead to life-altering medical conditions. 

Unlike many birth injuries, cephalohematoma alone is considered to be a minor injury and doesn’t usually have a lasting impact on an infant’s health. However, in some cases, the condition can lead to complications that have serious and even fatal consequences.  

Parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of cephalohematoma. Identifying the condition as soon as possible can ensure your child receives proper medical care and monitoring. 

What Is Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma occurs when the small blood vessels in an infant’s scalp are damaged, causing blood to collect between the scalp and skull. 

Unlike many other birth injuries involving head trauma, cephalohematoma doesn’t result in the risk of brain damage. Blood collects on the outside of the skull rather than inside, minimizing the risk of swelling and brain injury

However, this doesn’t mean that cephalohematoma is without risks. 

Health complications that can result from cephalohematoma include: 

  • Infection
  • Anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Calcification

It’s also possible for a skull fracture to occur alongside the trauma that caused the condition. Depending on risk factors, in some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to reduce the chance of complications. 

What Causes Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma is a birth injury. Infants aren’t born with the condition — instead, it’s usually the result of the actions of the medical staff who assisted with the birth. It is caused by trauma, meaning external pressure was exerted on the infant’s skull with enough force to rupture the blood vessels near the scalp. 

Cephalohematoma most frequently occurs in difficult or lengthy deliveries. Risk factors include the infant’s position and multiple gestations, such as twins. However, the use of birth-assisting tools like forceps or vacuum extractors are a leading cause in the development of the condition. 

Cephalohematoma Diagnosis

The most common sign of cephalohematoma is a bulge on the back of an infant’s head. Typically this bump is the only sign that cephalohematoma has occurred — there’s normally no accompanying bruising or discoloration. 

Failure to offer a prompt diagnosis can leave an infant at higher risk for complications. Some doctors may diagnose cephalohematoma merely by the presence of a bulge, while others may order additional testing to confirm there are no other concerns, such as a skull fracture. 

One issue with the prompt diagnosis of cephalohematoma is that the condition isn’t always immediately apparent. It can take hours or even days for the blood to pool enough to create a noticeable bump. 

What Are Some Cephalohematoma Complications?

Cephalohematoma alone doesn’t require treatment. The swelling should subside over a few weeks, and an infant can experience a full recovery without medical treatment. 

However, cephalohematoma should also be carefully monitored due to the potential for complications. 

Parents should watch for signs, including: 

  • Poor feeding
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity
  • Bulge growing rather than shrinking
  • Yellowish skin or eyes

If an infant exhibits these signs or other concerning behavior, they may be experiencing a dangerous complication, such as an infection, jaundice, or anemia. 

Financial Support for Cephalohematoma Complications

Most of the time, cephalohematoma resolves without a lasting impact on an infant’s health. However, not all cases are so straightforward. 

When cephalohematoma leads to calcification, severe skull deformities are possible, and prompt surgery is required for treatment. Untreated jaundice can occasionally cause fatality in infants. Severe anemia can lead to the need for risky medical procedures like a blood transfusion, and infection at the site of a cephalohematoma can lead to sepsis. 

When serious and fatal conditions like these follow a cephalohematoma, parents can consult a lawyer about the possibility of gaining financial relief by filing a medical malpractice claim. 

Contact Our Birth Injury Law Firm in Northwest Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Destin birth injury lawyers at Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:

Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 790-0243

Brannon & Brannon Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
(850) 863-5297