Pressure or impact to the head can cause a cephalohematoma in a newborn. They occur because of ruptured blood vessels underneath the baby’s scalp but outside of the skull. It does not take significant trauma or force to cause a cephalohematoma.
A cephalohematoma may occur during a long or difficult labor and delivery. One cause can be pressure on the baby’s head from the mother’s birth canal. A cephalohematoma can also be caused by excessive force applied to the baby’s head from a doctor, either manually, with forceps, or with a vacuum extractor device.
Sometimes these types of difficult deliveries are naturally occurring, and there was no safer alternative. Other times, difficult deliveries occur because the doctor failed to monitor the pregnancy closely, or otherwise acted with negligence.
When this occurs, the negligent doctor or hospital may be liable to the family in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Although cephalohematoma is not generally dangerous, complications such as anemia and infection are possible, and it can co-occur with more harmful types of birth injuries.
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Preventing Cephalohematomas in Newborns
Cephalohematomas are a rare injury that can occur when blood pools under the protective lining of the skull. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), just 0.4% to 2.5% percent of live births result in a cephalohematoma. They generally appear as a bulge under the skin of the scalp that can appear hours to days following birth.
This type of injury may occur during a vaginal delivery with risk factors such as a long labor or difficult delivery. This may occur as a result of:
- Cephalopelvic disproportion, when the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s birth canal
- A baby who is larger than normal for their gestational age
- Abnormal fetal presentation
- Multiple births delivered vaginally
- The use of forceps or vacuum extractor devices to aid delivery, especially improper use of these tools
In some cases, it may have been possible for a doctor to avoid these situations, and the resulting birth injuries, by ordering a cesarean section (C-section) delivery or otherwise taking steps to reduce the risk of a difficult labor and delivery.
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Healing from a Cephalohematoma
No matter what causes a cephalohematoma in a newborn, most are benign. Generally, a cephalohematoma only requires evaluation, diagnosis, and observation. In many cases, the body will usually absorb the blood, and the bulge will disappear on its own. Complications are possible, though. This is why observation is imperative. This could include:
In addition, sometimes a cephalohematoma is not the only birth injury the child suffered. This type of injury could be just one of the birth injuries caused by a traumatic birth. For example, the long and difficult birth may have also caused the child to suffer brain injuries such as cerebral palsy, or nerve injury such as Erb’s palsy.
If your child suffered a cephalohematoma during birth, make sure they are evaluated for complications and other injuries by a doctor immediately.
Medical Negligence Can Cause Cephalohematomas in Some Cases
While a cephalohematoma may occur as a natural result of a vaginal delivery, some cases support legal action in a birth injury case. Many children may suffer cephalohematomas as a result of a long or difficult birth that was preventable if the doctor or other care team member made the right decisions related to how to best deliver the baby.
If you are able to prove that doctor negligence caused your child’s birth injuries, you may be able to recover compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The damages recoverable in this type of legal action may include the money you had to pay for your child’s related medical care, imaging tests, diagnosis, observation, and more, as well as the time you missed at work caring for your child’s injuries, your out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
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Talk to a Member of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group Team Today
You can get help today from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today. We represent families across the U.S. in medical malpractice lawsuits for newborns harmed during prenatal care or birth.
If your newborn developed a cephalohematoma and you believe medical negligence played a role, you can discuss your case with a member of our team today by dialing (800) 222-9529. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group offers representation on a contingency-fee basis with no up-front payment required.