Birth injuries are frightening for parents and can be life-threatening for infants. Many birth injuries could have been prevented had doctors and medical staff recognized the risk factors or warning signs. However, some birth injuries occur even though everyone involved in the labor and delivery did everything correctly.

Cephalohematoma is a birth injury that impacts up to 2.5 percent of live births. The injury may occur because of prolonged labor and delivery. It can also occur because of negligence or errors by doctors and medical staff.

What Causes Cephalohematoma During Labor and Delivery? 

A cephalohematoma is caused by broken blood vessels in the baby’s skull. The ruptured blood vessels cause blood to pool between the periosteum (membrane covering the baby’s skull) and the skull. In many cases, cephalohematoma is not life-threatening and resolves itself given time.

The causes of cephalohematoma vary. Some of the causes or risk factors for cephalohematoma are not within the parents’ or medical professionals’ control. However, some could be attributed to medical negligence and medical errors.

Common risk factors that increase the chance of a baby developing a cephalohematoma during labor and delivery include:

  • Multiple births (i.e., twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.)
  • The use of vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery
  • Weak uterine contractions
  • Fetal macrosomia (larger-than-average babies)
  • Prolonged labor and delivery
  • Abnormal position of the infant

Doctors should identify risk factors of cephalohematoma and monitor the baby closely for signs. Failure to identify risk factors for a birth injury or monitor babies after birth who could be at risk of injury could rise to the level of medical negligence. 

What Are the Signs of Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma can be challenging to diagnose because the bleeding is internal. There might not be any outward sign of damage to the baby’s head. 

Because the blood pools slowly inside the head, it could take several days for parents to notice a bump on the baby’s head or swelling of the head. Sometimes, what appears to be bruising may be noticeable on the baby’s head.

How Do Doctors Treat a Cephalohematoma?

In most cases, the blood clots and the bleeding stops. The blood is reabsorbed into the body, but this could take weeks or months, depending on several factors such as the amount of blood.

Doctors generally do not try to drain the blood from the head. Draining the blood could result in severe complications, including abscesses and infections. Typically, it is best to allow the body to heal itself.

A doctor might order additional tests to determine if there are any other injuries or trauma to the baby’s head. The doctor might order x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds to identify skull fractures or other injuries. 

Can a Cephalohematoma Cause Other Complications or Conditions?

There is a chance that a cephalohematoma can cause other conditions and complications. Many of these conditions are treatable; however, they could result in injury and life-threatening conditions if left untreated.

Some infants could develop complications from a cephalohematoma including:

  • Linear skull fractures
  • Anemia
  • Meningitis
  • Hypotension
  • Jaundice
  • Infections
  • Skull deformities 

Infants with a cephalohematoma should be monitored carefully for the above complications or other complications that require immediate medical attention and treatment.

Filing Claims for Birth Injuries

Birth injury claims are usually based on negligence. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other medical professionals can be held financially liable when medical negligence or medical errors result in injuries and damages. However, proving a doctor is responsible for your baby’s injury can be a complicated process.

You must prove all elements of a negligence claim to hold a doctor financially liable for medical malpractice. Malpractice can occur without causing harm. If there is no harm or damages, the doctor is not liable under a malpractice claim.

In most birth injury cases, you must prove:

  • The doctor owed a duty of care to your baby
  • The doctor breached the duty of care
  • The breach was the direct and proximate cause of injury to your baby
  • Your baby sustained damages because of the birth injury

A birth injury lawyer investigates the circumstances and factors that led to the cephalohematoma sustained by your baby. In medical negligence cases, medical experts are retained to determine the standard of care that should have been used and whether the doctor breached the standard of care. 

If you can prove that the doctor or other medical provider was negligent, you could recover compensation for damages. Damages in a birth injury case may include:

  • The cost of medical care and treatment
  • Ongoing and future medical expenses and personal care
  • Rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other therapies
  • Medical equipment 
  • Special education 
  • Loss of earning capacity and future income
  • Disabilities, scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairments
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Your time to file a birth injury claim is limited by the Texas statute of limitations. Waiting too long to take action could result in losing legal rights.