Caput succedaneum is the swelling of a newborn’s scalp. It is usually the result of uterine or vaginal pressure during a head-first delivery. In some cases, this condition may be the result of negligent medical care. Common causes include too little amniotic fluid, misuse of vacuum extraction, or premature rupture of the membranes. Physical signs of caput succedaneum include swelling of the scalp, discoloration, or bruising.
Most newborns will recover quickly, with the scalp reverting back to its normal shape within a few days. However, in some cases caput succedaneum can result in jaundice (yellowing of the skin). As the baby’s blood bilirubin levels become harder for the liver to contend with, other complications may arise, including excessive fatigue and difficulty feeding.
Your child’s skull is primarily protected within your body by amniotic fluid sacs. If these sacs burst prematurely, the cushion that normally protects your child will allow him or her to bump against your body. Doctors can detect caput succedaneum as early as 31 weeks into your pregnancy.
Your child’s soft, undeveloped skull, unfortunately, makes him or her uniquely vulnerable to mild force. What might be acceptable for certain delivery situations may not be appropriate for your child— especially if you have risk factors such as a large baby or a small pelvic opening.
Your medical staff is responsible for gauging the risks of your child’s birth, ensuring that both of you remain as healthy and safe as possible. If you feel your hospital’s staff failed to do so by delaying delivery, acting too slowly, or taking too long to decide on a C-section, our seasoned litigators can investigate your case to determine the causes of your child’s injuries.
Swelling and purple or yellow bruising are the most common symptoms. A doctor can usually determine if your child has caput succedaneum through sight alone, without any testing. Typically, swelling and bruising will go away on its own after a few days. If this fails to happen, consult your doctor immediately.