There are many different types of birth injuries that a baby may sustain during labor and delivery. Some may be beyond the control of the physician. Others are caused by medical negligence and wrongdoing. 

The fear of a birth injury can keep expectant parents awake at night. To be sure, errors and omissions by physicians, nurses, and other medical staff members happen. However, parents can fight to ensure that their baby receives the medical treatment necessary to help recover from the birth injury.

Parents can also seek legal advice regarding their child’s injury. Depending on the circumstances, they may have a claim for medical malpractice because of a birth injury.

What is Caput Succedaneum?

“Caput” is short for Caput Succedaneum. It is a condition that presents at birth. However, some infants with Caput can be diagnosed as early as 31 weeks with an ultrasound. 

The condition is a birth injury that causes an infant’s head to appear cone-shaped at birth. The scalp swelling causes the malformation of the head. The most common cause of Caput Succedaneum is an extended delivery involving complications. 

In many cases, Caput is not life-threatening and does not have any long-term effects on the child. However, there are exceptions that parents should be aware of so that they can ensure the doctors are doing everything required to prevent complications.

What Are the Risk Factors for Caput Succedaneum?

There may have been nothing that a physician could have done to prevent the baby from developing Caput. However, several factors could indicate a baby is at risk for Caput. 

Doctors should closely monitor mothers and babies when these or other risk factors are present:

  • PROM or the Premature Rupture of the Membranes removes the barrier that cushions the baby’s skull, which can increase the risk of Caput
  • The use of forceps and vacuum extraction during delivery
  • Unusually low amounts of amniotic fluid
  • Prolonged and difficult delivery with extensive pushing

A doctor who fails to take measures to reduce the risk of Caput could put the baby in jeopardy of developing serious complications from Caput Succedaneum.

What Are the Potential Complications from Caput?

Most babies who develop Caput do not require extensive medical treatment. Within a few days, the swelling decreases, and no permanent damage occurs. However, without careful observation and intervention, potential complications could develop in some cases. 

Jaundice is one of the most common complications associated with Caput. Jaundice is caused by an increase in the bilirubin in the infant’s system. It usually goes away within a few days with minimal medical treatment. 

However, the bruising caused by Caput Succedaneum can result in higher levels of bilirubin in the baby’s system. If not treated immediately, the baby could develop Kernicterus. 

Kernicterus can result in:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Problems with the development of tooth enamel
  • Hearing loss
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
  • Problems with vision

In severe causes or causes in which adequate treatment is not provided, the infant could die. A baby with Caput must be closely monitored to ensure that jaundice does not result in a more serious, life-threatening condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Caput?

Unfortunately, there are no tests that doctors can run to determine if a baby will develop Caput. As stated above, Caput can sometimes be detected on an ultrasound at 31 weeks. A doctor can also perform a risk analysis to identify higher risks for Caput.

When the baby is born, the doctor performs a physical examination to check for signs and symptoms of Caput. 

Signs that indicate the baby has Caput Succedaneum include:

  • Puffy and soft swelling on one or both sides of the infant’s head
  • Swelling on the side of the head that presented first during delivery
  • Bruising on the infant’s head and color changes in the area where there is swelling
  • The head may appear mildly to severely cone-shaped

Parents who notice any of these symptoms develop in the hours after birth need to notify the doctor immediately. 

If you believe that your baby was injured during labor and delivery, you can talk with a birth injury lawyer for free. A lawyer reviews your case to advise you of your and your baby’s legal rights. Your baby could be entitled to compensation for injuries and harm caused by negligent doctors and other medical providers.