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What does cephalohematoma indicate in a newborn baby?

Cephalohematoma (photos) is bleeding under the baby’s scalp, causing a bruise.  This can occur as a result of pressure exerted on the baby’s head during delivery.  The swollen and bruised area is usually on one side of the top of the baby’s head.  There are usually no long-term complications or problems.  Within a week or two, the blood will break down and the swelling will go down.  This breakdown of the blood can cause newborn jaundice.

Incorrect use of medical instruments during delivery

In some cases, cephalohematomas may be an indicator that doctors used labor devices such as forceps or vacuums incorrectly, putting too much pressure on the veins in the newborn’s head, causing the veins to burst.  Cephalohematoma is a sign that external trauma occurred and does not mean your baby’s brain has been injured.  A cephalohematoma is different from a subdural hematoma, where bleeding occurs on the surface of the brain and can be associated with brain injury.  It is important to recognize that bruising or bleeding under the scalp is not normal and may be an indication that your doctor was a little too aggressive during delivery or used delivery tools incorrectly.  It is important to monitor your baby to ensure that any additional symptoms do not develop that could indicate a more serious injury.

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