Infant Cephalohematoma

Infant cephalohematoma is a medical condition that occurs in 1 to 2% of all live births, and is more likely to happen if birth-assisting tools were used during delivery. Although it’s considered a minor injury that usually heals without any major medical problems, there are certain factors that may lead to additional complications.

Infant Cephalohematoma

What is Infant Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma is a traumatic subperiosteal haematoma that occurs underneath the skin, in the periosteum of the infant’s skull bone. Cephalohematoma does not pose any risk to the brain cells, but it causes unnecessary pooling of the blood from damaged blood vessels between the skull and inner layers of the skin.

What are the Risks Factors of Infant Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma generally occurs during labor and delivery. In some instances, there is evidence of birth trauma, but in other cases, there is no indication of any sort of trauma. However, the use of forceps during delivery has been linked with a heightened risk of cephalohematoma. In fact, according to UBM Medica Network (UBM), cephalohematoma is most often caused by birth injuries. 

Other risk factors include:

  • The infant’s head is larger that then the mother’s pelvic area
  • First pregnancies
  • Difficult, prolonged labor

What are the Symptoms of Infant Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma is mostly internal, so it’s not as easy to see as a laceration, and infants may not react with obvious behavioral symptoms

Instead, look for symptoms such as anemia, infection, jaundice, and unnatural bulges on the baby’s head (see section below for additional details). If you find an unnatural bulge on the baby’s head, it should be checked out by your physician immediately.

How Do I Care for My Baby with Infant Cephalohematoma?

The first and most important step is that you get your baby inspected by a doctor. Once the infant has been inspected with tests such as a CT scan and an MRI, your doctor can prescribe treatments, therapies, surgeries, or medications that will help treat the area and get your baby back to normal.

In most instances, however, infants will heal on their own within three months. In some cases, physicians may attempt to drain the accumulated blood, but this is extremely rare, as the chance of infections and/or abscess formations arise.

In cases in which the blood build-up is so excessive that it lowers the baby’s red blood cell count, a blood transfusion may become necessary.

Infants with cephalohematoma are also at a heightened risk for developing jaundice, because as the blood breaks down, the levels of bilirubin increase. In these instances, and if the bilirubin is excessively high, treatment may include phototherapy.

Although most infants will heal on their own, as mentioned earlier, it’s also important to monitor and observe the baby, keeping a close eye on any additional bulging or signs of jaundice.