Many newborns are born with minor bruising because of the forces involved with vaginal delivery. However, extensive or serious bruises may signal a more traumatic birth and be a warning sign that the child suffered a more serious birth injury.
Bruising in newborns may indicate:
- Swelling or bruising of the head caused by a forceps or vacuum delivery
- Bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones
- Fracture of the clavicle or collarbone during delivery
- Shoulder dystocia, which causes bruising to the neck and shoulder
Some common areas for bruising caused by a stressful, prolonged, and difficult delivery include the head, neck, and shoulders. Excessive tugging, improper use of techniques, or a forceps or a vacuum delivery tool can leave a child with serious bruising in these areas. Babies born via cesarean section or with an unusual presentation may have bruises in other areas related to their delivery.
If your child was born with significant bruising, you should have them evaluated by a doctor for underlying injuries. You should do the same if a newborn presents new bruises after delivery, as this could be a sign of a serious condition such as a blood clotting disorder or leukemia.
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Some Babies Have an Increased Risk of Bruising and Other Birth Injuries
The normal forces experienced during labor and delivery are common causes of bruising in newborns. While any baby may experience some bruising during this process, those who endure long, difficult deliveries may be more likely to experience both bruising and more serious birth injuries. Factors that may cause difficult deliveries include:
- Large babies, usually over eight and a half pounds
- Breech births or other abnormal presentations
- Cephalopelvic disproportion, when the baby’s head is too large for the birth canal
In general, bruising in young babies is rare, except for birth-related bruising. According to a study shared by PubMed, only 2.2 percent of babies who could not yet walk presented with bruising, while 51.9 percent of infants who were walking independently had bruising.
Most bruises that occur during labor and delivery should heal within the first few weeks of life. If the bruising does not fade and disappear or additional bruising appears, you may want to follow up with your doctor.
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Bruising on the Heads of Newborns
While delivery-related bruising is not uncommon, some types are much more worrisome than others. Especially when the baby is born via a forceps or vacuum delivery, bruising and hematomas on the head may occur. This could include:
- Caput succedaneum: a minor injury that may be discolored and usually clears up quickly within a week.
- Cephalohematoma: a bleeding between the scalp and the skull that may require parental observation and several weeks or longer to heal. Complications could include anemia or jaundice.
- Subgaleal hematoma: a serious bleed that is potentially lethal and may require immediate medical treatment.
Make sure to have any head bruising on your child examined by a doctor and monitored closely at home.
Bruising and Preventable Birth Injuries
While some bruising after labor and delivery is normal for newborns, excessive bruising or some specific types of bruises may indicate a more serious birth injury. This can include nerve injuries such as Erb’s palsy, or brain injuries such as cerebral palsy.
If your child’s sustained birth injuries due to excessive force or another form of doctor negligence, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case. This may allow you to recover compensation for a wide range of damages, including costs of treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
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Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group for a Free Consultation
If you believe your baby was a victim of medical malpractice that led to a birth injury, you may be able to hold the doctor or hospital responsible. Fortunately, you do not need to face this process on your own. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group may be able to represent your family in settlement negotiations or a medical malpractice lawsuit. Allow us to handle all communications and legal work in your case while you focus on your family and your child’s wellbeing.
You can discuss your case with a member of our team by giving us a call today at (800) 222-9529. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group handles cases on a contingency-fee basis with no advanced payments required.