Cephalohematoma (CH) is a traumatic subperiosteal haematoma that occurs underneath the skin. It mostly happens in the periosteum of the infant’s skull bone.
The hemorrhage of blood between the skull and the periosteum rarely occurs in grownups.
CH condition can lead to unwanted pooling of the blood from the damaged blood vessels between the skull and inner layers of the scalp skin. A mass collection of blood gets accumulated under the skin of the scalp.
Fortunately, Cephalohematoma does not cause serious risk to the brain cells or development of the brain. The blood that is pooled outside the skull does not enter into the brain cells.
If your baby has an unusual bulge anywhere on its skull, it could be a CH issue. The bulge on the scalp does not show any bruise or cut on the surface of the skin.
After a week or so the bulge under the skin may become harder and stubborn as the blood calcifies.
However, after a few weeks, the bulge shrinks as the calcified blood gradually disappears. In some cases, the center of the bulge disappears before the edges. In such cases, CH has a crater-like appearance where the bulge existed.
The baby may also show any of the following internal symptoms like:
- infection leading to osteomyelitis or meningitis
- anemia or low blood cells counts
- behavioral difference like hypotension
- scalp bleeding called subgaleal hemorrhage
Diagnosis of Cephalohematoma
Generally, the physician performs a full-body physical examination of your infant to diagnose CH.
By examining the characteristics of the bulge on the scalp, a specialist doctor can easily identify the disease.
For diagnosing CH, your child may be subjected to other lab tests such as:
- MRI scan
- CT Scan
The diagnostic tests help to identify the CH problem and other complications in the scalp and skull of your baby. As the treatment for the CH is in progress, you should constantly monitor your child for any changes in symptoms including jaundice and anemia.
What causes Cephalohematoma?
Typically, Cephalohematoma is caused by birth injuries and trauma during delivery.
The prime reason for Cephalohematoma in a majority of the babies is a minor injury on the scalp of the child during labor or delivery.
An injury on the scalp of the baby can happen if the head of the baby is larger than the mother’s pelvic area. The baby’s scalp may get injured if the baby’s head hits against the mother’s pelvis during labor.
When a woman takes a longer time to deliver for a longer duration the baby’s head is compressed by the birth canal. This is the most common reason for cephalohematoma.
Improper use of birth-assisting devices like a vacuum or forceps may cause injuries on a baby’s scalp. Birth-help devices are necessary to help the woman in lengthy labor time but this, in turn, increases baby’s risk for Cephalohematoma.
Even when a woman is in perfectly normal labor, some amount of stress and compression is exerted on the baby’s head leading to bruising, swelling and Cephalohematoma.
Risks leading to Cephalohematoma development
Most of the infants experience some negligible level of CH development. However, there are a few factors that can increase the risk of injury.
The risk of possible bruises and injuries on the head of the baby can increase with the use of birth-assisting devices. However, the use of such devices becomes necessary for women who have complicated delivery or long labor.
Here are the other factors that increase the risk of CH:
- Small birth canal
- Large baby has a slow and compressed movement through the birth canal
- Use of certain medications like pain relievers that can weaken the contraction of the birth canal
- Mother carrying twins or triplets
- When the infant is not in a head-down position or back-facing position
- Weak uterine contractions that do not give a strong push to the infant into the birth canal
- Vacuum-assisted birth
Treatment options for managing Cephalohematoma
Cephalohematoma is not a serious health condition. In most cases, an infant does not need any special treatment for CH.
Treatment for CH is necessary only if the infant is suffering additional problems such as jaundice, low blood counts or other problems.
Within a couple of weeks, the head injuries will recuperate on their own. Usually, within 3 months after the birth of the baby, the CH injuries on the scalp will totally disappear with no traces of the injuries left behind.
However, if there is an unusually excessive amount of blood pooled under the scalp skin, your doctor may drain out the pooled blood. Such treatments can cause minor infections on infants’ scalp in the absence of reasonable care.
Possible complications from CH
It is not a serious health condition. The blood pooling under the scalp-skin stays only for a few weeks and gradually disappears.
Normally, no long-term complication arises from the CH issue. You need not fear any health hazards or developmental delays as a result of the injury.
However, CH can increase the risk of anemia and jaundice.
Your doctor might recommend a blood transfusion for your baby if severe anemia happened to your baby. The blood pooling resulting from CH causes a low count of red blood cells. Blood transfusion becomes necessary for this reason.
Babies with CH condition are susceptible to developing jaundice infection. It is because of excess bilirubin (yellow pigment) in the blood.
Jaundice happens as the blood from CH breaks down and gets reabsorbed leading to excess production of bilirubin in the baby’s blood.
If you notice yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes, your baby may have jaundice. Your doctor can do a phototherapy treatment to cure jaundice. Light therapy helps in breaking down excess bilirubin, and it then expels them from the baby’s body via stool and urine.
How can you care for your baby with infant Cephalohematoma?
As soon as you notice any unusual bumps on your baby’s scalp, make sure to get your baby to be inspected by a doctor. The doctor may conduct diagnostic tests like CT or MRI scanning to identify the gravity of the issue.
Usually, no medicines are required for CH unless associated issues like jaundice or anemia come up with it. Normally, CH will heal on its own within a few weeks or a maximum of 90 days after the birth.
In some cases, the doctor may attempt to drain out the excess accumulation of blood, but this may cause infection or abscess formations if not cared well.
Infants with CH condition need to be regularly examined diagnosing the possible occurrence of jaundice and anemia.
The doctor may recommend a blood transfusion if your baby has severe anemia.
Although the healing of CH issues heals on their own, still it is essential to monitor and observe the proper healing of this condition regularly.
The Bottom Line
Cephalohematoma issue affects about two percent of the newborn children.
In most cases, your baby need not remain in a hospital if they develop CH. The bulges under the scalp skin usually disappear within a few weeks without any medication.
However, it is important to regularly monitor the issue to see that symptoms do not get worse. Timely treatment is required for other health issues such as jaundice or anemia that may develop along with CH.
There is nothing to panic about the issue as this issue does not impact your child’s brain development or health complications.