What Is Infant Cephalohematoma?
A child can sustain injuries in many ways during the birth process, and an uncommon but potentially dangerous condition that can result from a birth injury is infant cephalohematoma. This condition occurs in about 2% of all live births in the United States. While it is not definitively fatal or life-threatening, it may still cause some adverse complications. Parents should know what to expect from an infant cephalohematoma diagnosis and when to pursue legal action if a doctor negligently causes this condition.
Effects of Infant Cephalohematoma
Infant cephalohematoma does not affect brain cells but it can lead to blood pooling between the skull and skin covering the head. Since this condition generally entails internal damage, an infant with cephalohematoma may not display any external symptoms near the injury site. Symptoms of infant cephalohematoma may include unnatural bulges on the head, jaundice, infection, and anemia. Parents should seek medical attention for a child displaying any of these symptoms as soon as possible.
Most infants who develop infant cephalohematoma heal within a few months. However, a doctor should address any excess blood pooling as soon as possible to prevent infections or abscesses. If the blood accumulation in the affected area is too great, the baby’s red blood cell count may drop to dangerous levels and the baby may require a blood transfusion. It’s also important for parents to remember that a baby who develops infant cephalohematoma will face an increased risk of developing jaundice. As blood breaks down, bilirubin levels increase and the baby may require treatment for jaundice.
Risk Factors for Infant Cephalohematoma
There is no real way to predict whether a baby will develop this condition, but a few markers may indicate whether a baby will face an increased risk of developing infant cephalohematoma. For example, if imaging tests show the baby’s head is larger than the mother’s pelvic opening, the baby may sustain injuries leaving the birth canal. Infant cephalohematoma is also more likely during first pregnancies or difficult labor.
Another possible cause of infant cephalohematoma is medical negligence. Some doctors may need to use forceps, vacuum extraction devices, or other surgical instruments to complete a delivery. However, it is essential for doctors to only use these devices when absolutely necessary and use them with the utmost caution. When doctors injure babies due to excessive force, incompetence, or any other negligent reason, parents of injured babies likely have grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits against the negligent doctor.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Basics
In many ways, a medical malpractice lawsuit is essentially a personal injury lawsuit against a doctor or other medical professional who causes an injury to a patient during the course of treatment. Medicine is a very uncertain field, and diagnosing one patient may require a very different process than another with similar symptoms. Doctors and other medical professionals like nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists must meet the acceptable standard of care for a given situation. The standard of care is what a competent, reasonable, and skilled professional would do to treat a patient based on the patient’s condition.
A doctor performing a delivery must have a very clear, medically sound reason for using any type of surgical device. If a doctor used forceps, an extractor, or any other device or technique that causes an injury, the doctor may be liable for the resulting damages.
Infant cephalohematoma may not be a life-threatening condition in most cases, but it can still cause discomfort and other medical issues that can affect the first few years of a baby’s life and development. When a doctor causes this issue due to negligence, the parents can file a medical malpractice claim to recover any additional medical expenses, lost income, and any other damages resulting from the injury.