Close this search box.

Newborn Cephalohematoma

Becoming a new parent can be a wonderful experience, but when your baby suffers an injury during birth from medical negligence, the situation can become scary and unpredictable. During a difficult birth, physicians may deploy different methods and delivery tools like forceps or vacuums to try and ease the process on the mother and baby. Unfortunately, such measures can increase the risk of a baby developing birth injuries such as newborn cephalohematoma.

Newborn cephalohematoma is a medical term that refers to an accumulation of blood under a baby’s scalp, typically after delivery. Often referred to as infant hematoma, this condition occurs when small blood vessels crossing the thin tissues above the skull bone are ruptured, causing blood to build up between the thin layer of tissue and skull bone. The bleeding process is gradual, so it can take hours or even days for a newborn to develop clear signs of cephalohematoma.

Difference Between Cephalohematoma and Caput Succedaneum

Newborn cephalohematoma and caput succedaneum, also known as newborn conehead, are two conditions that are often confused. Both manifest as swelling on your baby’s head but have distinct differences and causes.

Caput succedaneum is swelling caused by the pressure on your baby’s head during a prolonged vaginal delivery or from using assisted devices, such as forceps. The pressure exerted on your baby’s head during birth can cause fluid to accumulate in the soft tissues. This fluid accumulation can lead to noticeable swelling.

Cephalohematoma results from blood accumulation between your baby’s skull and scalp after a difficult birth. Pressure during childbirth and using vacuum extractors and other assisted devices can break blood vessels in your newborn’s scalp, causing blood to accumulate.

Caput Succedaneum Newborn Cephalohematoma
  • Pressure during passage through the birth canal
  • Pressure from assisted devices, such as forceps
  • Influenced by prolonged or difficult labor
  • Minor trauma during a vaginal birth
  • Often associated with using forceps or vacuum during delivery
  • Swelling or puffiness is soft and may extend across the midline of the skull to both sides of the head or down the side of the face.
  • The affected area may show bruising or color changes and darkening.
  • The baby's head may have a cone-shaped appearance.
  • Some babies may have temporary hair loss in a ring shape at the swelling site. 
  • Scar tissue may form, causing permanent hair loss, but this is rare.
  • Some babies may experience jaundice, causing a yellow tint to your baby's skin or eyes.
  • Swelling is firm and localized and does not cross the midline.
  • Swelling is confined to one of the bones of the skull.
  • Typically resolves within a few days after birth.
  • No specific treatment is required.
  • Takes longer to resolve, typically several weeks to months.
  • As the blood is reabsorbed, the swelling decreases.
  • Typically temporary and harmless
  • Rarely leads to complications
  • Occasionally leads to jaundice
  • Rarely leads to anemia or infection

Signs of Newborn Cephalohematoma

Recognizing the signs of cephalohematoma is crucial. Early detection can lead to timely medical intervention, ensuring the best possible outcome for your baby. Newborn cephalohematoma is not life-threatening itself. However, it can occasionally lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening complications if not addressed promptly.

Complicating symptoms of newborn cephalohematoma include the following:

While it’s essential to be aware of these complicating symptoms, you also want to check for primary symptoms. Newborn cephalohematoma can manifest in various ways. Some symptoms are clear, while others may manifest subtly and be more challenging to detect. 

Primary symptoms of newborn cephalohematoma include:

Early detection and intervention can prevent complications and ensure your newborn’s well-being. You should consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms of newborn cephalohematoma.

Feeding difficulties icon

Feeding difficulties

Baby crying icon

High-pitched crying

Large head icon

Enlarged head

Pain in the skull icon

Pain in the skull

Baby icon


swelling icon


Tiredness icon


Vomiting icon


Diagnosis of Newborn Cephalohematoma

There are various methods for diagnosing cephalohematoma, including:

Prognosis of Newborn Cephalohematoma

Learning your newborn has a cephalohematoma can be distressing. It is natural to be worried about your child’s well-being. The good news is that cephalohematoma often has a favorable prognosis. Also, it does not impact your newborn’s brain development. The blood accumulates outside the brain, between the skull and the periosteum, the membrane that delivers blood to the bones.

Most cephalohematoma newborns recover within a few months, especially when doctors diagnose the condition early and provide appropriate medical care. The baby’s natural healing process gradually reabsorbs the accumulated blood, and the swelling decreases. You must remain vigilant during this time. Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor and remain attentive to new symptoms and changes.

Key Takeaways for Parents:

Getting Help for Newborn Cephalohematoma Due to Medical Negligence

Cephalohematoma can happen naturally during childbirth. However, it sometimes results from medical professionals’ mistakes, including the following:

Seeking legal help can ensure your child receives the best possible care and that negligent parties are held responsible. Legal action may result in compensation, which can help you cover medical bills, therapy, and other related costs.

Taking action can also help minimize these incidents in the future. If you believe that medical negligence caused your newborn’s cephalohematoma, consult with a newborn cephalohematoma lawyer. They can analyze your case and suggest the most promising options, ensuring your child’s interests are prioritized.

Contact us for more information on navigating cephalohematoma in newborns.

Written by:
Birth Injury Center Team

The Birth Injury Center aims to create informational web content and guides to help women and their families seeking support and guidance for birth injuries caused by medical negligence. All of the content published across The Birth Injury Center website has been thoroughly investigated and approved by medical expert Natalie Speer, RNC-OB, Attorney Ryan Mahoney.