What Is a Cephalohematoma in a Newborn and Why Does It Occur

Cephalohematomas, large bruises occurring when a baby is born, can cause concern for new parents. In essence, they are the result of birth’s pressures and can manifest as a noticeable bump on your baby’s head. But what exactly is a cephalohematoma in a newborn and why does it occur? Our experts shed light on this, providing reassurance on its formation and timeline for disappearance.

New parents who discover their infant has a cephalohematoma, a collection of blood under the head similar to a bruise, are not alone in their experience.

Even though they look scary, cephalohematomas are common (2% of all kids get them) and nothing to worry about—they’re harmless and won’t hurt your baby. Since the lump is under your baby’s head, their hair will grow right over it.

What is a Cephalohematoma?

The accumulation of blood under the scalp’s epidermis is called a cephalohematoma. A cephalohematoma does not cross the midline of the skull due to the connections between the tissues there. Pressure during birth can cause their formation. The only concern associated with cephalohematomas is an increased risk of jaundice in the newborn’s first few days of life.

Subdural hematomas are less prevalent but are sometimes mistaken for cephalohematomas. Blood can collect outside the skull, as in a cephalohematoma, or inside the skull, as in a subdural hematoma. Subdural hematomas, in which the mass develops inside the brain and is not externally apparent, are more serious.

Why They Happen

When the baby’s head is pressed up against the pelvic bone during birth or when vacuum extraction is used to assist in the delivery process, cephalohematomas are more likely to occur. The increased pressure can create tiny tears in the veins right under the baby’s head, leading to a collection of blood that manifests as a lump.

The bump may be higher and feel like a soft, water-filled balloon, but it won’t hurt your baby or cause them any pain or long-term problems.

How to Take Care of a Head Injury

A cephalohematoma is a lump on the head that goes away on its own. It can take weeks or months, but most of the time, it takes three months. Cephalohematomas don’t need any special care. Just be gentle when you run your hands over the baby’s head during bath time.

Hematomas typically begin to heal from the center outward, with the outside rim hardening (from calcium) first. Parents may experience what seems like a lunar crater for a while before the hematoma fades but know that this is typical and a good indication. If your baby has a cephalohematoma, seek advice from their pediatrician on treating it and monitoring its healing progress. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have.

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