Caput Succedaneum: What Is It and How Long Does It Last?

After your baby’s birth, were you surprised to see a swollen lump on their head? If you did, you were most likely alarmed, wondering what happened, and wondering if and when it was going to go away. 

If a swelling that looks like a lump or bump appears on a baby’s head immediately after birth, they may have what is known as caput succedaneum. This condition is relatively harmless, and it usually resolves on its own. However, it can lead to other problems like jaundice. 

Causes of Caput Succedaneum

Caput succedaneum is a condition affecting babies who were not properly handled during birth. It is often caused by pressure placed on the child’s head during delivery. The pressure may also be from the dilated cervix or vaginal walls, which causes swelling, bruising, and puffiness. If your labor was long and difficult, requiring you to push for an extended period, your child is more at risk of developing this condition. 

Caput succedaneum can also develop if the amniotic sac ruptures too early in labor or if there was not enough water in the sac. If there is not enough fluid surrounding the baby during delivery, the head is not cushioned as well, which can lead to the condition.

Complications of Caput Succedaneum

Caput succedaneum should clear up on its own, and it rarely develops into serious complications. The most common complication is newborn jaundice caused by excess bilirubin in the blood due to swelling and bruising. This should clear up on its own in a few weeks. There are circumstances where untreated jaundice could lead to serious health problems, so your doctor should provide you with instructions on how to treat it if your child does develop jaundice. 

After the swelling goes down, your child’s head may be slightly pointed, but this will also go away over time. There have been cases when a child developed cerebral palsy or suffered from developmental delays due to caput succedaneum.

Liability for Caput Succedaneum

It is not uncommon for caput succedaneum to be caused by medical malpractice. In order to prove the doctor made a mistake, you will need to demonstrate that they did not provide the standard of care you should have reasonably expected and that their failure led to your child’s injury. 

For example, if your doctor used too much force during a forceps delivery and caused the injury, they may be liable. In that situation, your doctor had an obligation to use an accepted standard of care during your delivery, but they violated that obligation and it led to your child’s injury.

Compensation for Caput Succedaneum

If your child develops caput succedaneum, you may be eligible for compensation, depending on the severity and the level of medical malpractice. You may be eligible for funds to cover your baby’s medical costs, therapies, and more if your doctor was liable for your child’s injury. 

Birth injuries can lead to lifelong problems and if the injury was due to a medical professional’s carelessness or negligence, you may be able to recover some of the costs your child’s injury may incur for treatment as well as pain and suffering.

Although caput succedaneum is often a minor injury that resolves itself with no need for additional treatments, when the injury is caused by a healthcare provider’s error, you may be eligible for compensation. In order to learn whether you have a claim, you need to talk to a birth injury lawyer who can review your case and determine what rights you may have under the law. 

2020 Kimberly Signature

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