Monday, February 20, 2012

Baby Head Care—A Little Bit About What Houses the Brain!

Your baby’s beautiful head is the house of dreams, love, intelligence, development and personality—the magical, mystical, marvelous brain! As a physician, it was one of the most amazing parts of learning, and now focusing my practice in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of child injuries related to accidents and abuse, I am particularly interested in preventing head injury. One of the best ways to help parents prevent injuries is to learn about the body, how to keep it safe & how to care for it.

In this posting, we’ll learn a bit about the head and our next post will discuss how to care for the outside. We’ve already talked about the importance of holding your baby’s head and how to do this properly. Now, let’s talk about baby care as it applies to the noggin!
The newborn head has several “layers”. Starting from the outside, (most) babies have hair. Next comes the scalp, covered by skin. Deeper inside are soft tissues and other structures that house some “bumps” some babies are born with. These are called “caput succedaneum” and “cephalohematoma”.

Caput Succedaneum
is a swelling of the scalp, usually produced from pressure on the scalp coming through the birth canal when the baby is delivered vaginally. It is soft and puffy and may extend to both sides of the scalp.

A cephalohematoma is hemorrhage or bleeding between the outside of the skull and a delicate membrane lining the skull called the “periosteum”. It’s on one side of the head, and as it heals, it becomes harder. It may persist up to three months of age. Pay extra attention to baby’s skin with this condition because it does increase the risk of jaundice (which is treatable, if necessary) due to breakdown of the blood inside the cephalohematoma.

Again, both of these conditions heal and do not involve injury to the brain. Be open and discuss any questions/concerns with your pediatrician.

That’s enough medical lingo, but it’s good for us to talk about these common “lumps and bumps” that worry some parents. Watch for our next posting, where we’ll talk about baby head care, from washing to combing (and even throwing in a little headband or baseball cap).

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