What Is Caput Succedaneum?

When your child is diagnosed with a birth injury, it can be hard to hear what the doctor is saying. No parent expects their child to be the victim of a birth injury and it makes most people feel helpless and unsure. If your child’s been diagnosed with caput succedaneum and you’re trying to figure out just what that means, medically, as well as for you and your child’s future, we understand. Learn more about this common birth injury below so you can educate yourself about your child’s potential condition and how you should move forward on this new and unexpected path. 

The Outline Of The Condition

Caput succedaneum is a term that’s often used to describe the swelling that occurs in a baby’s scalp right after they’ve been delivered. These are common for many head-first births as the pressure exerted on the child’s head as it leaves the birthing canal can, at times, damage the scalp. This is not often a life-threatening birth injury, but is known to lead to other medical issues that, if left untreated, could result in life-long issues. The pressure on the infant’s head does not cause brain damage, but it could cause jaundice and other potential medical issues if not addressed. It should be noted that this birth injury is nowhere near as severe as the rare and heart-breaking cephalohematoma which refers to bleeding under the infant’s scalp at the time of birth. That can, in fact, cause much more serious health issues. 

What Causes It? 

In short, long, difficult labor is known for causing caput succedaneum. The pressure put on the child’s head as it is birthed causes swelling. However, if the attending doctor used forceps or vacuum suction to assist the birth, those methods increase the risk of this type of swelling and could make the swelling far more serious. This type of birth injury is also very common if the amniotic sac membranes rupture too early during labor forcing too much of the fluid out and putting more pressure on the mother’s pelvic bones and, thus, the head of the child. This swelling sometimes occurs before birth and this scalp swelling lasts longer. 

Symptoms of the Disease

The main symptoms of this birth injury are a soft and swollen scalp on the child. If you were to press on it, it may result in a dimple in the flesh of the head. At times, the swelling will appear only on one side of the head or it may extend into another section of the head entirely and around the mid-scalp area. When looking for symptoms of this disease, it’s often advised that the child’s head be examined around the portions of the skull where the child entered the birth canal first. This pressure and swelling is sometimes accompanied by discolorations and bruising on the child. Once the swelling decreases, this will likely result in a slightly pointed head as the pressure managed to mold the bones at the time. However, the bones in your baby’s head aren’t fused and they should be able to move without further issues. 

Treating the Issue

As we said before, this is only serious if it goes untreated. Treatment for this ailment usually isn’t the issue, as the issues that arise from this ailment are usually the more daunting sicknesses. Jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin due to an excess of bilirubin in the blood, is a common side effect of this specific issue. While it’s simple to treat, ignoring the issue, or having your pediatrician be dismissive about the issue after it’s gone on for some time can be extremely damaging to the child’s long-term health. 

Are You the Victim of a Birth Injury?

If your baby’s health has suffered because of a birth injury you have options. Reach out to Murphy Falcon & Murphy. We’re here to help our fellow community members in the Baltimore area, thus, if you have any questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to helping you and your family.