Bruising in a Newborn

Contrary to your dreams of what your baby will look like, a newborn is not always pretty. Skin discolorations and eruptions, including bruising, are common in newborns and most of the time, are nothing to worry about. Discuss concerns about your newborn's bruising with your pediatrician.


The most common cause of bruising in a newborn is birth. The passage through the birth canal can create bruising in babies simply because their skin is so delicate and the journey is fraught with effort. Other causes of bruising in newborns can include accidents -- being dropped -- or abuse. Older babies may sustain bruising as they learn to navigate the world through rolling, crawling and walking. Newborns who are not yet sitting or rolling on their own are less likely to become bruised under their own steam. Bruising may also indicate a more serious illness relating to the blood, including some forms of cancer or failure of the blood to clot.


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Bruising in a newborn usually occurs in the face and head as a result of delivery. Babies born breech, or bottom first, may show bruising in the feet and genital area. Bruising on the head may be seen in the area around your newborn's eyes, as well as on the forehead. Discoloration due to mobility -- most likely falling down -- is usually found on your baby's legs, but can occur anywhere on the body.


Bruises sustained from delivery and the natural curiosity of a baby do not require treatment and will resolve themselves within a few days. Bruising that does not heal within two weeks should be looked at by a pediatrician. Speak to your doctor if you suspect your child's bruises may stem from abuse from a parent or babysitter.


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What you think is a bruise on your newborn may not actually be a birthmark. Blue-gray marks on your baby's lower back or buttocks could be Mongolian spots, a type of birthmark found predominantly in newborns of Asian or African-American heritage. Mongolian spots fade over time in most cases, but can be mistakenly identified as bruises.