Causes & Symptoms of Cephalohematoma

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one out of every 33 babies born in the United States will suffer from a birth defect of some sort. This translates into 120,000 babies every year, or about one newborn every four-and-a-half minutes. 

Some of these birth defects can be severe, threatening the newborn’s quality of life and chance of survival. Other conditions may be more benign but nonetheless cause new parents worry and concern. Cephalohematoma is one of the latter conditions.

What Is Cephalohematoma?

Cephalohematoma is a condition that occurs in approximately 2.5% of all births involving a difficult or complicated vaginal delivery. The condition refers to the rupturing of blood vessels right underneath the scalp due to pressure applied to the baby’s head during delivery.

The Cleveland Clinic has identified several factors that, if present, increase the risk of cephalohematoma:

  • Prolonged and difficult vaginal delivery
  • Delivery of multiple babies, like twins and triplets
  • Newborn weight of more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces
  • Use of an epidural for pain management during delivery
  • Use of forceps or vacuum tools to assist in the delivery

One out of every ten children delivered with the assistance of forceps or vacuum devices will develop cephalohematoma.

Cephalohematoma Signs and Complications

When cephalohematoma is present, ruptured blood vessels beneath the scalp leak, and the blood begins to pool right underneath the scalp. This pool of blood creates a soft, raised area on the baby’s head. Eventually, this raised area will harden. This lump of blood typically appears on the back of the child’s head and may resemble a bruise.

This bump may grow larger at first, but it will often resolve and disappear over days or weeks. The bump may crater in the center, leaving a ring-shaped indentation on your child’s head.

While cephalohematoma may go away without further medical treatment and without causing a child injury, there are some possible complications.


Your baby’s body will absorb the blood that has collected in the cephalohematoma, which can raise your child’s bilirubin levels. Jaundice may set in, and if it does, your child’s skin and eyes may take on a yellowish color. Mild cases of jaundice may resolve on their own, while very severe cases may require a blood transfusion.

Calcification of the Cephalohematoma

If your child’s cephalohematoma does not resolve within several weeks, the pooled blood could harden and calcify. Although rare, if this does occur, your child may require surgery to correct the issue. 

Infections of the Blood, Skin, or Bone

There is a risk of infection with cephalohematomas. Although most infections are not life-threatening, there is always a chance that a more serious infection can set in. This might include cellulitis, which is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues. Sepsis (an infection of the blood) and bone infections may also result.

These complications are rare, and cephalohematomas often go away without medical intervention. However, children who are unusually fussy or who show signs of jaundice should be seen by their medical provider.

If your newborn develops a cephalohematoma, it may be due to carelessness from a healthcare provider. When avoidable medical errors cause harm during childbirth, you may have a legal right to compensation. Such compensation could include damages to cover your child’s medical bills, the time you miss from work, and mental anguish.

An attorney experienced in handling birth injury cases should review the facts of your situation and advise you accordingly.

If you’ve been injured in a brain injury, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

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