Have Cephalohematoma Complications Impacted Your Baby’s Health?
Your doctors may have told you it was nothing to worry about—but while cephalohematoma itself doesn’t cause much harm, the condition may develop into dangerous, even life-threatening health issues. As a parent, it’s your prerogative to watch every change in your child. However, if your baby’s symptoms seem mild or nondescript, rushed physicians may brush off your concerns.
At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, we take you seriously. We know that birth injuries can change your child’s life as well as your own. If your baby suffered illness or disability due to a doctor’s negligence, we can help you bring a lawsuit. You have to do whatever you can to care for your family, and filing a personal injury claim may help you recover the compensation you need for therapies and other associated expenses.
We want to hear your birth injury case. Contact us online or call (502) 242-8872 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Though it’s a long word, a cephalohematoma is actually a rather simple condition. During pregnancy or labor, excess pressure on a baby’s head can cause small blood vessels to rupture. The resultant blood clot will form under the baby’s scalp. These injuries don’t show up right away, but as more blood escapes the broken blood vessels, they become visible—often days or weeks after the birth.
If your baby’s head has a raised bump that’s soft, they may have a cephalohematoma. The injury should not look red or purple like a bruise, and the skin itself should be fine. If you find a bump like this, it’s not an immediate cause for concern. However, you should track its appearance and watch for other signs that something might be wrong.
Cephalohematoma May Have Natural Causes
Childbirth is a difficult process, and sometimes babies sustain injury during labor. Cephalohematoma may develop in cases of:
- Prolonged labor
- Weak contractions
- Irregular fetal positioning
Anything that causes relatively high amounts of pressure on a baby’s head could damage blood vessels.
Other Times, They’re Caused by Labor Trauma
When labor is difficult or stalled, doctors may use forceps or a vacuum extractor to advance the process. These tools can injure your infant if not used carefully. They are likely to cause abnormal levels of force on the scalp, resulting in cephalohematoma.
Other Risk Factors
Not every difficult pregnancy or use of assistive devices results in cephalohematoma. Doctors have studied trends in the condition’s occurrence and found that it is more likely to occur in infants:
- Who are female
- During a first pregnancy
- Whose heads are too big to complete a natural birth
- Whose heads are not optimally positioned for delivery before labor
When a Cephalohematoma Appears
As we mentioned, a cephalohematoma itself should not cause intense worry. Most of them disappear naturally without intervention. Doctors do not recommend trying to remove the clot, as that introduces the risk for infection.
However, you should keep an eye on your baby for signs of risky complications, such as:
- More frequent crying
- Different type of crying
- Increased tiredness
- Refusal to eat
or other signs that your baby is in distress, you should seek help from a doctor. Two expected symptoms of cephalohematoma are jaundice and anemia, resulting from the loss of red blood cells. Both problems are mild and can be easily treated once identified.
What Complications Could Endanger My Baby?
In some cases, a cephalohematoma may develop into a more serious problem. These cases can range from temporary and reversible to severe and life-threatening. As soon as complications arise, doctors should begin treatment.
If a cephalohematoma lasts for longer than a month, it may ossify. Calcium deposits on remaining clots that are not reabsorbed by the body may harden into bone, causing a permanent skull defect. If ossification begins, doctors may try to remove the cephalohematoma. Should that treatment fail, your baby may need surgery to remove the resulting skull deformity.
As an infant’s body breaks down a cephalohematoma, some elements of the clotted red blood cells are metabolized into bilirubin. This substance is not easy for infants to excrete. When it builds up, bilirubin causes jaundice; if not treated, bilirubin levels may build up to the point of causing seizures and brain damage. Possible treatments include phototherapy, blood transfusion, or adding more breastmilk to a newborn’s diet.
Nearly 1 in 4 cases of infant cephalohematoma is caused by an underlying skull fracture. When the cephalohematoma is abnormally large, symptoms of central nervous system disorder present, or delivery was very difficult, doctors should take x-rays to determine whether the skull sustained injury during birth. Linear fractures are the least likely to cause lasting damage in infants; however, if a fracture is depressed or diastatic, your baby may have a traumatic brain injury that could result in disability.
If your baby’s cephalohematoma gets infected, their blood may follow suit. This condition, called sepsis, can be deadly if untreated. The infection could also spread to the sheath that protects their spine and brain (meningitis), their skin (cellulitis), or even their bones (osteomyelitis). If your baby displays the following symptoms, they may need urgent treatment to prevent permanent disability or even death:
- Refusal to eat
- Changes in cephalohematoma size
- Redness in the overlying skin
- Visible swelling of the injured area
If your baby’s cephalohematoma develops complications, a good doctor will observe them and recommend treatment before any serious, lasting damage results. When a physician fails their standard of care to keep your baby safe, you may be able to hold them liable for medical bills, future treatments, and more.
Our Cephalohematoma Lawyers Are Here to Help
With in-house medical staff to evaluate and investigate each case we take, Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in Kentucky. We have over 5 decades of experience and our birth injury team has helped many new parents who are struggling with the consequences of physician negligence. Even if you’re only thinking about filing suit, we urge you to talk to one of our attorneys. We provide trusted advice in trying times, and your consultation is always free of charge.
Reach out to us online or by phone at (502) 242-8872 with your cephalohematoma and other birth injury questions.
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