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Q: My baby was born with bruises on her face and scalp. What could have caused them?

The bruises you see are a type of Carlisle birth injury and could occur during a normal vaginal delivery, an assisted delivery, or a cesarean section.

Vaginal Delivery

Sometimes swelling and bruising occur due to pressure against the mother’s pelvis as the baby travels through the birth canal. This can happen when the baby is large or when the labor is prolonged or difficult. For face-first deliveries, you may notice swelling or bruising around the eyes or on the face. For feet-first deliveries, you may notice swelling or bruising on the scrotum, labia, or feet.

Assisted Delivery

Bruises and cuts are more common during deliveries assisted by forceps or vacuum extractors than during unassisted vaginal deliveries. Forceps are similar in function to tongs and are used to gently assist with the birth of the baby. Vacuum extractors apply suction to the baby’s head to help deliver the baby.

Babies born with assistance from forceps may have forceps marks—bruises on the face or scalp. Those born with assistance from a vacuum extractor may have bruises or cuts on their scalp.

Cesarean Section

Babies delivered by cesarean section—an operation used to deliver a baby when a vaginal delivery is not feasible—may sustain scalpel lacerations (cuts). This happens when the surgeon is cutting through the abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby and accidentally cuts the baby in the process.

Many of these Carlisle birth injuries will heal quickly with little or no treatment. Bruises usually are left to heal on their own. Cuts may be bandaged, glued, or stitched together. Since infection is always a risk, antibiotic ointment may be applied periodically to the cut.

While these birth injuries generally are minor, they sometimes can turn into a bigger problem that requires additional medical intervention.

If your child suffered any type of birth injury that you think may be due to medical negligence, please call the law offices of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers at (717) 888-8888. Both the call and your consultation with a personal injury lawyer are free.