Stephen Hasner | Medical Malpractice | February 14, 2021
Giving birth to a healthy boy or girl is one of the greatest joys any parent can experience. Unfortunately, not all babies are born healthy. Myriad birth defects and injuries can affect babies and cause parents unending stress. A wide range of natural birth abnormalities abound and can negatively affect the first days, weeks, and months of your baby’s life.
In addition to natural birth defects, there are a number of injuries that can be caused by the negligence of the physician or midwife who delivers the baby. One such injury is cephalohematoma.
Cephalohematoma is the excessive pooling of blood on the back of the baby’s head between the scalp and skull. While not every case is serious, those that are require immediate medical attention.
Causes of Cephalohematoma
It is important to know that cephalohematoma can have both natural causes and unnatural causes. In order to determine whether or not you might be able to take legal action against your doctor, you will need to understand what most likely caused your child’s case.
Some of the natural causes of cephalohematoma include:
- Prolonged labor
- Failure to progress
- The baby hitting his or her head against the mother’s pelvic wall during delivery.
Birth is a traumatic experience for a baby and cephalohematoma can be a natural consequence of the journey from womb to world.
However, because cephalohematoma can be caused naturally, some doctors might claim your child’s case is the natural result of the birthing process. That might not always be true.
Unnatural causes of cephalohematoma include:
- The use of a forceps to extract the baby from the birth canal
- The use of a vacuum to suction the baby out of the birth canal
Birth-assisting devices can cause cephalohematoma, but in some cases the use of them is necessary. However, if it wasn’t, and the doctor used them anyway, your child’s case could be a result of your doctor’s negligence.
Symptoms of Cephalohematoma
Typically, cephalohematoma will not harm a baby. Over time, the congealed blood will resolve itself and the baby will face no developmental issues. However, in some cases, cephalohematoma can cause other serious complications.
Three of the most serious complications caused by Cephalohematoma are:
- Jaundice: newborns are regularly monitored for jaundice. Cephalohematoma can increase bilirubin levels in the blood and put a baby at a greater risk. In order to fight against jaundice, a baby might need phototherapy.
- Infection: the mass of blood between the skull and scalp can become infected. This can lead to a host of complications and is especially dangerous for a newborn.
- Anemia: Due to cephalohematoma, your baby could become anemic. There is a correlation between the two and it is advised you seek medical attention immediately if your baby is showing signs of cephalohematoma.
All three of these complications can be very serious and require costly medical intervention to minimize damage. In addition to treating jaundice, infection, and anemia, your baby might also require a CT scan, x-rays, and medication to break up the mass of blood when it is hardened.
Knowing Your Rights
To know the next steps you should take if you believe your baby’s case of cephalohematoma was the result of your doctor’s negligence, it is important you educate yourself as much as possible about the birthing process and what to expect.
There is a distinct power imbalance in the relationship between a doctor or midwife and their patient. The more you know about what is normal during birth and what is not, the better you will know your rights and be able to advocate for yourself and your baby.
If you suspect negligence, you might want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney who specializes in birth injuries. A good lawyer will be able to examine your case and assess whether or not you have a solid case.