What is Caput Succedaneum and What Causes It? | Scott Goodwin Law

What is Caput Succedaneum and What Causes It?

by / Friday, 03 May 2019 / Published in Birth Trauma
Mother holding baby in hands resting on her legs

Being born isn’t easy and once a baby makes their entrance into the world, it’s very common for them to have some bruises or swelling. While it’s certainly alarming to see a newborn with bruising, in many cases, it’s simply the result of pressure from the birth canal or making contact with the mother’s pelvic bone and should clear up on its own over time.

Caput succedaneum is another very common condition a newborn might have. When a child has caput succedaneum, their scalp becomes swollen at some point around the time of delivery.

As is the case with infant bruising, caput succedaneum is very often the result of pressure babies naturally experience during a head-first delivery. Complicated, prolonged deliveries can increase the odds of a child developing caput succedaneum. Caput succedaneum also tends to be more common when membranes rupture too soon, as early as 31 weeks. When membranes rupture too soon, the baby’s head is doesn’t have as much protection as it normally would. In these cases, caput succedaneum can often be detected through ultrasound before birth.

In some cases, caput succedaneum can also be caused by the use of birth-assisting tools. During vacuum-assisted deliveries, a suction cup is placed on the baby’s head and pressure is applied to help move the child through delivery. Because of the added pressure applied to the child’s scalp, caput succedaneum is more likely to occur during assisted deliveries.

The swelling caused by caput succedaneum might look like it’s uncomfortable for the child, but the good news is that it very typically clears up on its own pretty quickly without the need for any additional treatment or long-term effects. Attempting to drain the swelling in the scalp area can actually lead to infections.

While caput succedaneum doesn’t generally result in any long-term effects, it is possible for it to cause some complications. Bruising often accompanies the swelling of caput succedaneum and while some bruising is usually nothing to be concerned about, it is what can potentially cause problems. Bilirubin is produced as a byproduct of red blood cells degrading and as the blood cells trapped beneath the skin of a bruise begin to degrade, it can potentially increase the child’s bilirubin levels and lead to them developing jaundice.

Jaundice is another condition that’s very common among newborns and typically doesn’t result in any serious long-term health problems. However, if jaundice isn’t treated quickly enough, it can potentially become very serious. Untreated jaundice can turn into Kernicterus, a type of brain damage caused by high bilirubin levels. Kernicterus can result in problems like hearing loss, seizures, issues with muscle tone, and athetoid cerebral palsy.

If your child was impacted by complications from caput succedaneum, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. By talking to a lawyer, you’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and learn more about your legal options. The Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka has lawyers who are experienced in handling many different types of birth injury cases. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.