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OBJECTIVE: To describe the obstetric and perinatal factors, in particular the method of delivery, associated with development of a subgaleal haematoma (SGH) and to determine the outcome of survivors with this type of birth trauma. METHODOLOGY: Perinatal and obstetric data were retrospectively reviewed for 37 infants admitted to the neonatal unit of the sole tertiary paediatric referral hospital in Western Australia with an SGH, over a 24 year period from 1970 to 1993. These data were compared to data for all Western Australian births. The long-term outcome was obtained through medical and private paediatric records for 26 of these infants. RESULTS: All except one of the neonates had instrumental deliveries; 89% had a vacuum extractor applied to the head at some stage of delivery compared to 10% of the general population of births in Western Australia. There was also a significantly increased risk of failure of attempted vacuum extraction. Of the cases where a vacuum extraction was attempted, 45% also had forceps applied to the head. Coagulopathy was associated with the severity of the SGH. There was also a high frequency of occurrence (40%) of associated head trauma such as intracranial haemorrhage, skull fracture and cerebral oedema, as well as neonatal encephalopathy (73%). The occurrence of these associated features did not correlate significantly with the severity of SGH. Minor complications of SGH included jaundice and facial bruising. There was an excess mortality associated with SGH; however, the long-term outcome for neonatal survivors with this disorder was good. None of the cases studied subsequently developed cerebral palsy or intellectual disability, and minor neurological sequelae only were documented in four infants. CONCLUSIONS: SGH is an uncommon type of birth trauma, and is associated with delivery or attempted delivery by vacuum extraction. The most commonly associated clinical problems were hypovolaemia and coagulopathy. The long-term outcome for neonates with this condition is good.


Journal article


J Paediatr Child Health

Publication Date





228 - 232


Australia, Brain Injuries, Confidence Intervals, Female, Hematoma, Humans, Incidence, Infant Mortality, Infant, Newborn, Injury Severity Score, Intensive Care Units, Neonatal, Male, Odds Ratio, Pregnancy, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors, Vacuum Extraction, Obstetrical