It is natural for new parents to worry and obsess over every bruise they find on their infant, but infant bruising is actually very common and usually completely harmless. About one in five infants frequently have minor bruising, and as long as an infant is carefully monitored and protected from severe injuries, minor bruising is nothing to worry about.
Most infant bruising causes are related to incidents when an infant suffers minor trauma or injury to a localized area of their body, like an arm or leg. When an area of skin is impacted, it may cause the blood vessels close to the surface to rupture. The blood vessels in an infant are especially fragile, so even a very light impact can cause a bruise. Once the blood vessels rupture, the blood will flood into surrounding cells, causing a blue or purplish color in the skin. In a few days, the body will completely reabsorb the blood, and the bruise will disappear. Infant bruises are only more dangerous when they are caused by serious blood disorders and other conditions.
Infant Bruising Causes Related to Bumps and Falls
Most infant bruises are simply the result of bumps and falls an infant suffers as he learns to move and navigate his environment. Studies haves shown that as an infant becomes more mobile, his risk of having bruises increases significantly. This is because small falls and bumps are one of the most common infant bruising causes.
Infant Bruising Causes Related to Blood Disorders
There are a number of blood disorders and conditions that can make bruising happen more often and last longer. One example is Von Willebrand disease. This is a genetic condition that causes more frequent bruising and nose bleeds in infants. In most cases, the effects are mild and not dangerous or life threatening.
Thrombocytopenia and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura are disorders related to a baby’s low platelet count. Both conditions can result in more frequent bruising of the skin. Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura typically results after the infant gets an infection. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s antibodies cause a breakdown in platelets. Henoch-Schonlein purpura is another immune disorder that causes bruising of the infant’s skin as well as rashes and joint pain.
Both hemophilia A and hemophilia B may cause infant bruising. These blood disorders affect the ability of the blood to clot, and this can cause easy bruising, larger bruises, and bruises that take longer to disappear. Infant leukemia has also been shown to cause easy bruising. Leukemia will typically cause of number of other symptoms as well, so it will likely already be diagnosed before bruising becomes an issue.
Infant Bruising Causes Related to Birth Trauma
If an infant was just delivered, it is very common for the infant to have some bruising. Minor swelling and bruising of the head and other parts of the body is known as caput succedaneum, and it normally disappears in a short amount of time. Because delivery is a very stressful physical ordeal for an infant’s body, light bruising is expected to occur, especially in body parts like the head which likely were compressed the most as they traveled through the birth canal. If a delivery is unusually long or difficult, the likelihood of bruising increases because the baby’s body will be compressed for longer amounts of time, there is less amniotic fluid to cushion the baby, and there are likely other complications such as positioning of the baby or a prolapsed umbilical cord. In some cases, misconduct or malpractice by the medical staff may also cause bruising, and this is more likely if vacuum suction or forceps were used to assist the delivery.