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Caput Succedaneum Birth Injuries

If your baby was born with Caput Succedaneum or other birth injuries and conditions due to negligence, you might be able to recover damages. There is approximately a 2% to 33% chance of a baby having Caput Succedaneum.

Doctors and medical staff will most likely avoid methods of delivery that can cause this condition, but there have been cases where proper precautions were not taken. If your baby suffered a birth injury, you could hold a doctor accountable if negligence is involved.


The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have decades of experience handling complex personal injury cases. We are committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation.

Call our birth injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you with any questions you may have.

What Is Caput Succedaneum?

Caput Succedaneum is a condition where a newborn’s scalp swells shortly after birth. It is usually caused by birth trauma or vaginal wall pressure from the uterus. This condition is harmless but can lead to other problems.

Prolonged pressure from the cervix or vaginal walls can cause the baby’s head to become puffy and bruised. Swelling of the scalp or edema is likely if the amniotic sac membranes rupture early in labor.

If this rupture occurs or the amniotic sac has too little fluid, the mother’s pelvic bones will put external pressure on the infant’s head. After the delivery, a physical exam by the baby’s doctor should be enough to diagnose Caput Succedaneum.

Difference Between Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma of the Baby’s Head

Caput Succedaneum and Cephalohematoma are similar in that they involve bumps and swelling of a baby’s scalp. Cephalohematoma occurs when blood collects between the baby’s skull bone and the periosteum of the skull bone, so it does not cross suture lines (fibrous bands of tissue that connect the bones of the skull).

Cephalohematoma can signal a possible skull fracture that occurred during birth. Caput Succedaneum involves swelling of the scalp with subcutaneous fluid collection with poorly defined margins.

The swelling from Caput Succedaneum crosses suture lines of the baby’s skull. The scalp swelling is usually due to pressure on the scalp against the dilating cervix during vaginal delivery.

Both conditions are common and can occur from the mother’s pelvis, delivery forceps, and vacuum extractors. Another severe condition to note is subgaleal hemorrhage, which may sound similar to Cephalohematoma. This condition also involves swelling due to an accumulation of blood within the skin tissues of the head.

With this condition, the emissary veins separate from the tissue and rupture.

What Are the Risk Factors of Caput Succedaneum?

External pressure to the head will most likely come from the birth canal when a baby pushes through headfirst in a vaginal delivery. The birth canal is very narrow, and a baby delivered head first will experience the most pressure on the head.

A baby can also have Caput Succedaneum through a c-section delivery if there was pressure on the head before the procedure was performed. Pressure from long, difficult labor can also cause this condition in a baby.

Full-term and overdue newborn babies are at a higher risk of suffering from Caput Succedaneum. There is more pressure on the baby’s head when the infant is macrosomic (high birth weight).

A difficult birth that involves the use of vacuum extraction or forceps is also likely to result in Caput Succedaneum. These tools are also used and put pressure on the baby’s head during an already difficult delivery and may increase the risk of a birth injury.

Symptoms of Caput Succedaneum in the Birth Canal

The most common symptom of caput succedaneum is swelling on the top of a baby’s head. The bump will occur on the head area pushed through the birth canal.

Other symptoms that are associated with Caput Succedaneum are:

  • Puffiness under the skin of the scalp
  • Swelling
  • Bulging on the soft head spot
  • The infant’s head is pointed
  • Discoloration
  • Bruising
  • Anemia

The baby may also cry a lot and have difficulty feeding. The condition may last a few months but will disappear on its own.

Potential Injuries Associated With Caput Succedaneum

Caput Succedaneum is not a medical emergency that requires treatment. The condition will usually resolve without any complications or long-term effects.

Potential complications from Caput Succedaneum can occur and may involve further treatment. Attempts to drain the fluid from the scalp may lead to an infection or other complications, so it is recommended to leave the area alone.

Bruising of the Swollen Area of the Infant’s Head

In some cases, a significant amount of pressure on a baby’s head during delivery will result in severe bruising and necrosis in the skin tissue. Necrosis is the death of most or all cells in an organ or tissue due to injury or disease.

The bruising can signify a more severe injury to the brain. The baby’s doctor should review any symptoms and monitor the recovery.


Bruising can cause bilirubin levels in the blood to increase. High levels of bilirubin are the underlying cause of jaundice.

Infant jaundice is the yellow coloring of the baby’s skin and eyes, caused by excessive bilirubin, a yellow pigment of red blood cells. Jaundice is a harmless condition if it is monitored and treated.


If jaundice is not cared for, it can sometimes worsen into a condition called kernicterus. This condition occurs when excess bilirubin in the blood enters the brain.

Hair Loss From Caput Succedaneum

Sometimes babies will have hair loss, known as alopecia, in the area of scalp swelling. There are some cases where scars may form on the scalp and result in permanent hair loss.

Treatment of Caput Succedaneum

The vast majority of babies with Caput Succedaneum will make a complete recovery without any treatment. The soft swelling on the baby’s head and the pointed shape of the scalp should be normal within a few days to weeks.

The area should be left alone and monitored by a physician to ensure no other potential medical conditions are involved.

Testing Used to Detect Caput Succedaneum and Birth Injury

Doctors and medical professionals are trained to reduce the likelihood of a birth injury when delivering a baby. There are ways medical staff can detect if caput succedaneum or other birth injuries are likely.

With an ultrasound, Caput Succedaneum may be detected as early as the first delivery stage. This imaging method will be able to see swelling or a low amount of amniotic fluid.

An intrapartum assessment with a transperineal ultrasound can be used to detect Caput Succedaneum during the labor and delivery process. A premature rupture of the amniotic sac membranes is also a sign that the baby will experience prolonged pressure.

Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries

Caput Succedaneum is a common condition found in newborns. However, if you have determined that a severe associated condition resulted from negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit.

Severe head trauma, permanent brain damage, and necrosis are all potential birth injuries resulting from negligence from a physician. Your doctor should be held accountable for any negligence that caused a birth injury related to Caput Succedaneum.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If your newborn baby has suffered from a birth injury related to Caput Succedaneum, you should contact an experienced lawyer immediately. A newborn’s head is fragile and has already experienced trauma through the delivery process.

Any health care physician who does not take the proper precautions during labor and delivery can cause lasting effects on a newborn baby. Consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer will allow you to recover past and future damages.

Contact our legal team of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We will guide you through the process of a medical malpractice suit and answer any questions.

Our Chicago law group is committed to getting you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you with an attorney for a free case review.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.


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