What is Caput Succedaneum?

birth injury caput succedaneumCaput succedaneum is a medical term that describes the swelling of an infant’s scalp shortly after delivery. This usually develops when pressure is placed on the infant from the uterus or vaginal wall during birth; more commonly during head-first (vertex) deliveries. Caput succedaneum does not indicate damage to the brain or cranial structure, but edema, or abnormal accumulation of fluid, in the cranium. In general, this birth complication is harmless if monitored properly.

What Causes Caput Succedaneum?

Caput succedaneum often occurs after a lengthy or difficult delivery. It is more likely to develop after the membranes in the amniotic sac have broken or there is not enough fluid in the amniotic sac. When the amniotic sac is not supporting the infant’s head, the mother’s pelvic bones will continue to force pressure on the presenting part of the infant’s scalp. It is possible for an infant to experience swelling before the mother goes into labor.

The use of vacuum extractors and forceps increase the chance of an infant developing this condition; especially if too much force is applied or force is applied incorrectly due to negligent use of the forceps.

What are the Symptoms of Caput Succedaneum?

Symptoms of caput succedaneum include:

  • Swelling under the skin of the scalp
  • Bruising or discoloration of the scalp
  • Swelling that extends to both sides of the scalp
  • Increased molding of the head.

While there is no formal test used to diagnose this condition, a physician just needs to perform a physical examination or ultrasound to assess the infant’s symptoms and make a formal diagnosis.

What is the Difference Between Caput Succedaneum vs. Infant Cephalohematoma?

Infant Cephalohematoma is a condition that causes a pool of blood to form between the periosteum of an infant’s skull bone and the bone itself. Because cephalohematomas develop internally, their symptoms often go unnoticed. Although caused by similar circumstances (prolonged delivery or instrumental delivery), infants with cephalohematoma will not experience symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after delivery.

Birth Injury Lawyers in Houston

If your newborn has suffered serious injuries due to the misdiagnosis or development of caput succedaneum, you may be entitled to legal recovery. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., our birth injury attorneys understand how difficult filing a claim can be, which is why all of our initial consultations are free. Call us today at (713) 932-0777 to learn more about your rights.

*This information is for education purposes. None of the information on this page is intended as medical or legal advice. No attorney-client privilege or relationship is hereby created.

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