Newborns can sometimes be born with a swollen, reddish, or misshapen head. Is this normal? What causes them to have swollen heads after birth?
Why do some newborns have swollen heads?
The reasons for these swellings are as follow:
Generally, it can be quite a shock for parents to see that their newborn baby’s head immediately after birth can be quite misshapen and swollen. Fortunately, most of these swellings will resolve spontaneously.
1.The baby’s head is the biggest part of the body. It will have to “squeeze” its’ way through the birth canal, hence it undergoes “molding.” Which is a process where the bones of the skull may temporarily be compressed, thence resulting in a misshapen head.
2.If the birth process is long, a lot of fluid can also accumulate over the head as it is the most dependent part of the baby’s body. This extra fluid accumulation over the head is called “Caput Succedaneum.” It usually will resolve itself over 1-2 days after birth.
3.For some babies, they can also have some bleeding under the scalp, outside the skull, called “cephalohematoma” which can also lead to bumps on the sides of the head. This, however, will take months to resolve. If instrumental delivery was necessary, the babies can also have other swellings related to the instrument use, eg vacuum.
Very rarely, babies had an abnormal bone development of the skull and this can cause abnormal skull growth which will require surgical treatment. The pediatrician who examines the baby after birth will be the best person to explain the various causes.
Is it something to be worried about?
For the most part, there’s really nothing to worry about if your newborn has a swollen head immediately after birth.
It usually goes away after a few days and your doctors will definitely inform you if there’s something wrong.
Iif the swelling still doesn’t go away shortly, don’t hesitate to take your newborn to the doctor. It’s always a good idea to get help from a doctor as soon as you think something’s wrong with your newborn.
Dr Lee Le Ye,
Department of Neonatology
National University Hospital
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