Cephalohematoma: When Birth Injuries Look Like Child Abuse

June 2, 2017 | Crandall & Pera Law
Cephalohematoma: When Birth Injuries Look Like Child Abuse

Does any parent have a greater nightmare than being unfairly accused of harming his or her own child? Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario is a reality for some parents of children who have suffered a ruptured blood vessel in their skull during a traumatic or difficult birth.

Known as cephalohematoma, this condition affects 1 in 50 infants in the US. Rather than being a biological problem, cephalohematoma is caused by the improper actions of medical practitioners during delivery, through the aggressive use of a vacuum or forceps. The majority of babies who suffer this injury during birth recover with no lasting damage in about three months. The damage is not to the brain itself, but to the skull and surrounding tissue. However, during the recovery process, the tissue damage looks nearly identical to the damage of other, more serious conditions, which can only be ruled out via radiography or CT scanning.

Not every case of cephalohematoma is resolved without issue. Some babies suffer more serious bleeding and require blood transfusions, and any infant with the condition is more prone to jaundice.  In some cases, the condition accompanies a more severe skull fracture. Risk factors for developing a cephalohematoma include:

  • Difficult or prolonged delivery

  • Use of forceps or vacuum extraction

  • Maternal vitamin C deficiency

  • Large infant head size compared to maternal pelvis

  • First pregnancy

It is the responsible of the physician to identify and anticipate these issues and take appropriate precautions. Failure to do so is a demonstration of negligence on the doctor’s part.

This birth injury can mimic the symptoms of abuse

Some parents may not be aware that their babies have a cephalohematoma until a well-baby visit or other medical assessment. In the Virginia case of Crystal Good,e that is exactly what happened. Rather than recognizing the bump and surrounding bruise as a relatively innocuous cephalohematoma, her pediatrician called the police, and Goode was charged with felony child abuse. Testimony was given that the injury was consistent with a fall from at least three stories or a high-speed car accident. Birth records, however, clearly indicate that Goode’s infant suffered a cephalohematoma during delivery. Unfortunately, Goode pleaded guilty prior to these records being checked, and still faces a sentence of two to 10 years in prison. While she is currently free on bond, Goode is not allowed to have unrestricted access to the baby or her other four children.

If your infant has suffered a cephalohematoma during delivery, contact the experienced Kentucky and Ohio birth injury lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law. Our attorneys work to get you and your child the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, or contact us today.