A birth injury causing a collection of blood under the skin of the scalp on one side of the head in babies is known as infant cephalohematoma. The location of the blood in this disorder is between the bones of the skull and the lining on the bones. The visible symptoms appear on the second day after birth. The disorder is not a brain injury but a birth injury. While not necessarily problematic on its own, it is commonly associated with complications that can result in long-term damage.

What Is Infant Cephalohematoma?

Infant cephalohematoma is a birth injury occurring in roughly one or two out of every one hundred births. A collection of blood from broken blood vessels builds up under the scalp and causes this disorder. The fluid collects under several layers of tissue. It differs from caput succedaneum in that the fluid does not collect right beneath the skin.

Infant Cephalohematoma Causes

The pressure of pelvic bones when the baby is exiting the birth canal typically causes this disease during delivery or labor. Another cause of the disorder might be the usage of forceps, vacuum extraction, or other assisted delivery mechanisms. Infant cephalohematoma is more common in first time mothers. A long and hard delivery can also cause this disorder.

The main causes or factors of infant cephalohematoma may include:

  • A premature baby
  • Dystocia
  • Cephalo-pelvic disproportion
  • A high birth weight
  • Poor delivery technique

Infant Cephalohematoma Symptoms

Usually a lump or bump can be seen on one side of the scalp of the baby. It is typically located towards the back or side of the head. The appearance of lumps may take several hours after the baby is born. Swelling typically does not spread beyond open ridges on the scalp.

Complications of Infant Cephalohematoma

There are some infant cephalohematoma birth injuries that are minor and can be cured on their own. However, there certain other symptoms that should be monitored as they can persist for some time and lead to further complications. In many cases, it is not the cephalohematoma, but the associated complications that are left unmanaged, which cause the most damage.

Skull Fracture

Skull fracture can take place when forceps and vacuum were used to extract the baby. The use of extraction equipment increases the likelihood of developing cephalohematoma. Newborns who exhibit symptoms of cephalohematoma should also be checked for skull fractures.

Head Trauma

Infant cephalohematoma can lead to head trauma. Due to strong link with brain damage, parents and doctors should always be concerned if their child faces any developmental delays. Precautions should be taken to ensure that the child has not suffered significant head trauma before leaving the hospital.


Babies who have developed infant cephalohematoma are likely to develop jaundice right after birth. One of the reasons could be to replace lost blood cells. A higher level of bilirubin is found in the blood of babies and they may require phototherapy for their treatment. While not severe if treated, jaundice is a complication that can have serious repercussions if left untreated.


When infant cephalohematoma is punctured, the baby may develop an infection. It is only in rare or extreme cases that a doctor will opt to puncture and drain the affected area. There is a high association with infection and abscesses so it is usually not advised to puncture a cephalohematoma.


Anemia is another serious complication of infant cephalohematoma. A decrease in the delivery of oxygen in the blood can have a negative impact on brain and body. The baby may become weak and easily fatigued. The baby may also develop permanent injuries. In more severe cases, transfusions may be required to treat this.

Calcium Deposits

Sometimes calcium deposits can also develop on the scalp of baby. The deposits may leave hard bumps that can last for several months. These typically do not present any danger but they can cause a disfigurement of the head that persists into adulthood.

Infant Cephalohematoma Treatment

Infant cephalohematoma usually heals with time and typically does not require any treatment. On average, babies who suffer from this disorder will heal within three months. Larger areas of cephalohematoma can take more time to disappear. Even in larger cases, treatment is typically not required. However, if a large amount of red blood cells are trapped and the child develops anemia, it becomes necessary to undergo a blood transfusion. In most cases, the most important treatment methods are treating any symptoms that develop as a result of the cephalohematoma.

Infant Cephalohematoma Legal Considerations

Your child may have suffered from cephalohematoma as a result of medical malpractice or negligence by the medical professional at the time of delivery. If you feel that your child did not recover fully at the expected time due to his or her birth injury or has experienced lasting damage as a result of the condition, it is important to speak with an experienced birth injury attorney.




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Bickle, Ian, and Frank Gaillard. “Cephalohaematoma.” Radiopaedia Blog. Radiopaedia. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. <http://radiopaedia.org/articles/cephalohaematoma>.

“Cephalohematoma.” Photo Gallery. Stanford University School of Medicine. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. <http://newborns.stanford.edu/PhotoGallery/Cephalohematoma1.html>.