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What is cephalohematoma, and how does it develop?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | Birth Injuries

Idaho parents never want to find out that their baby has suffered a birth injury. Unfortunately, they can occur. One common type is cephalohematoma.

About cephalohematoma in infants

Cephalohematoma is a common birth injury that is characterized by blood pooling below the infant’s scalp outside of the skull. It occurs when there is excess pressure applied to the baby’s head during childbirth and blood vessels are ruptured. Hemorrhage occurs and the blood collects and forms a mass that could appear horrifying. However, this is a common condition that is normally not serious. Many babies develop cephalohematoma during vaginal births. Sometimes, the injury occurs when the doctor uses forceps or vacuum extraction.

Symptoms of cephalohematoma

Parents can tell their baby has cephalohematoma by noticing certain symptoms. The most common is a bulge on the back of the head that forms shortly after birth. Initially, the back of the baby’s head will feel soft, but it hardens as the pooled blood calcifies. After a while, that blood under the scalp begins eroding in the middle while the outside takes longer to resolve. It appears like a ring around the baby’s scalp.

Some infants experience additional symptoms with cephalohematoma. Those with the condition often develop jaundice, which gives the baby a yellowish tint to the skin.

Infections can also develop at the cephalohematoma site. This is a serious complication of the injury, so parents should keep in continuous contact with their doctors to determine what treatment steps are necessary.

Many babies with cephalohematoma experience anemia, also known as a low red blood cell count.

Around one out of four infants with cephalohematoma also have linear skull fractures. Although this sounds serious, it can resolve on its own over time without medical intervention.