California Birth Injury Attorney

Cephalohematoma – Birth Injury Attorney in California

A cephalohematoma is an accumulation of blood under the scalp. During the birth process, small blood vessels on the head of the fetus are broken as a result of minor trauma. Specific to a cephalohematoma, small blood vessels crossing the periosteum are ruptured and serosanguineous or bloody fluid collects between the skull and the periosteum. The periosteum is the membrane that covers the outer surface of all bones. The bleeding is gradual; therefore, a cephalohematoma is not evident at birth.

A cephalohematoma develops during the hours or days following birth. Because the fluid collection is between the periosteum and the skull, the boundaries of a cephalohematoma are defined by the underlying bone. In other words, a cephalohematoma is confined to the area on top of one of the cranial bones and does not cross the midline or the suture lines. Because the collection of blood is sitting on top of the skull and not under it, there is no pressure placed on the brain.

What is the Cause of a Cephalohematoma?

The cause of a cephalohematoma is rupture of blood vessels crossing the periosteum due to the pressure on the fetal head during birth. During the process of birth, pressure on the skull or the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor rupture these capillaries resulting in a collection of serosanguineous or bloody fluid.

Factors that increase pressure on the fetal head and the risk of the neonate developing a cephalhematoma include:

  • Long labor
  • Prolonged second stage of labor
  • Macrosomia
  • Weak or ineffective uterine contractions
  • Abnormal fetal presentation
  • Instrument-assisted delivery with forceps or vacuum extractor
    • If used correctly and with the appropriate level of skill and care, forceps and vacuum extractors can be perfectly safe delivery tools. However, when these instruments are not used correctly they can easily result in excessive head pressure and cause injuries such as a cephalohematoma.
  • Multiple gestations

These factors contribute to the traumatic impact of the birthing process on the fetal head.

Settlements & Verdicts Involving Cephalohematoma

You do not see a large number of cephalohematoma birth injury cases because this injury usually does not cause real harm and it typically clears in a matter of weeks. But like any birth injury case, the settlement value of cephalohematoma lawsuits are quite high if there is a birth injury. Often, cephalohematoma is a co-traveler with another more serious complication.

We Represent Clients All Across California

If your baby was born with cephalohematoma or another type of birth injury contact the birth injury attorney at Potter Handy, LLP today at (415) 534-1911 for a free case evaluation.

*Some of the on-page content is provided by National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine –