Newborn infants are incredibly fragile, and doctors must handle delivery with extreme caution. When medical professionals do not exhibit proper care, infants are at risk of receiving countless birth injuries.
Fortunately, infant cephalohematoma (CH) is one of the milder birth injuries. That being said, if doctors do not properly evaluate the injury, severe complications can arise.
If a negligent provider misdiagnosed your child or failed to act on complications related to their CH, you may be entitled to compensation.
CH does not typically cause long-term damage, but cases that are not addressed appropriately can be life-changing for you and your family.
WHAT IS INFANT CEPHALOHEMATOMA (CH)?
CH occurs when an infant’s blood vessels are damaged during birth. The vessels release blood, which pools between the skin and the scalp and causes a visible mass on the baby’s head. Approximately 1-2% of babies develop CH after birth. The condition does not affect their brain and usually resolves itself within a few weeks. Think of it as a bruise under the skin.
WHAT CAUSES CH?
Women who are delivering for the first time or carrying multiple pregnancies at the same time are more likely to have a baby with CH. If the mother has a long labor or complicated delivery, her child is at a higher risk of developing CH, as well. When the child is especially large, their blood vessels may be damaged while squeezing through the birth canal.
The use of vacuum extraction and delivery forceps can also increase an infant’s risk for CH. Certain pain medications can weaken contractions and slow labor, which makes CH more likely.
If your doctor used an inappropriate treatment, they may be responsible for your child’s CH and any complications that arise.
HOW IS CH TREATED?
Many cases of CH go away without medical intervention. Nevertheless, you should have your doctor investigate any unusual lump on your baby’s head. Sometimes, a doctor can mistake a leptomeningeal cyst for CH. While CH can heal on its own, a leptomeningeal cyst is a complication of a skull fracture and requires immediate surgical intervention.
Occasionally, CH can cause anemia and jaundice. If this is the case, your doctor may choose to drain pooled blood. Addressing CH directly is extremely rare, because the blood-draining process can increase your infant’s risk of infection and abscess. More often, medical professionals treat complications directly.
If CH causes anemia in your child, your doctor may recommend a blood transfusion. CH can diminish your baby’s red blood cell count, but a transfusion will boost the number of red blood cells and ease symptoms of anemia while the CH heals.
Jaundice is caused by an excess of bilirubin in the blood. As the CH breaks down and your infant reabsorbs the blood into their body, they may develop yellow pigment in their eyes or skin. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance found in old red blood cells and bile. Phototherapy or light therapy can help break down excess bilirubin and allow your baby to eliminate the substance with their natural wastes.
Treating jaundice is extremely important. If left unresolved, the condition may lead to:
- Hearing loss
- Improper development of tooth enamel
- Permanent upward gaze
- Involuntary and uncontrolled movements
- Cerebral palsy
- Kernicterus and other brain damage
Any child with CH should be closely monitored for signs of jaundice. Children with jaundice should also be examined for underlying health problems.
If your doctor neglected to take these steps, they may be accountable for any disabilities your child develops.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NEONATAL CARE
Although CH can develop naturally and heal on its own, the care your baby receives during and after birth is crucial.
If your doctor failed to adhere to your wishes or consider your child’s safety during delivery, you may be able to hold them liable for negligence.
Similarly, a doctor who overlooks a brain fracture or fails to address complications of CH can be sued for medical malpractice.
CH should not be a life-changing injury, but without the correct care, it can become one.
If your family has been affected by compromised neonatal care, contact The Mellino Law Firm today. Our attorneys focus on medical malpractice and birth injuries and are dedicated to results.
From our first meeting, we will apply our knowledge, experience, and skill to your specific needs.