Caput Succedaneum

A caput succedaneum injury can cause parents to have emotional distress, physical pain, added medical expenses, and potentially long-term consequences for their newborn child. When the condition was caused due to negligence or medical malpractice, parents can seek damages against the responsible party by filing a caput succedaneum injury claim with assistance from a Colorado birth injury lawyer. By pursuing this legal recourse, parents can obtain compensation for their losses and ensure the future of their child and family.

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What causes caput succedaneum?

The causes of caput succedaneum can be categorized into prenatal and delivery factors. Prenatal factors that can contribute to the development of caput succedaneum include complications such as:

  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with the placenta 

These conditions may affect fetal circulation and increase the risk of swelling and bruising on the baby’s scalp during birth.

During delivery, several factors can contribute to the occurrence of caput succedaneum, including:

  • Prolonged labor that puts excessive pressure on the baby’s head against the mother’s cervix for an extended period
  • The improper use of delivery instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors can also result in this condition if excessive force is applied to the baby’s head during extraction

It is important to note that while caput succedaneum often resolves on its own without any long-term consequences for the infant, negligence or medical malpractice during delivery can aggravate this condition and potentially cause more serious injuries requiring legal action.

Caput succedaneum symptoms

The symptoms of caput succedaneum typically become apparent shortly after birth and may include:

  • Swelling: The affected area, usually the scalp, may appear swollen and puffy. The swelling might be soft to the touch.
  • Bruising: Discoloration or bruising on the baby’s head is a common symptom of caput succedaneum. The bruises can range in color from red to blue or purple.
  • Crosses suture lines: Caput succedaneum can extend beyond the boundaries of a single cranial bone, crossing over cranial suture lines
  • Fluid-filled lump: A fluid-filled lump may form on the newborn’s scalp from an accumulation of excess fluid beneath the skin surface, causing the swelling
  • Mild discomfort: In some cases, infants with caput succedaneum might exhibit mild tenderness or sensitivity when pressure is applied to the affected area

If you notice these symptoms or have concerns about your child’s health following birth, it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention for proper evaluation and treatment as necessary.

Potential complications of caput succedaneum

While most cases of caput succedaneum resolve on their own without complications, it is still important to understand potential risks and complications that may arise:

  • Jaundice: The breakdown of excess red blood cells in the bruised area can increase bilirubin levels in the baby’s bloodstream, leading to jaundice. This condition causes yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Infection: In rare cases, there is a risk of infection occurring at the site where caput succedaneum developed. If not properly monitored or treated, this infection could spread or worsen.
  • Anemia: Excessive swelling and bruising from caput succedaneum may cause anemia from the increased destruction of red blood cells
  • Cephalohematoma: Sometimes confused with caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma is bleeding beneath the cranial bones, resulting in a raised lump appearing hours after birth
  • Potential delays in breastfeeding or bonding: The discomfort caused by swelling and tenderness may make it challenging for the newborn to breastfeed or establish early bonding with their parents

Treating caput succedaneum

Caput succedaneum usually resolves on its own and does not require any specific treatment. However, healthcare professionals should closely monitor the infant to ensure there are no complications or worsening of symptoms using the following measures:

  • Observation: Medical staff regularly monitor the size and extent of swelling, bruising, and any associated symptoms
  • Gentle care: It is important to handle the baby’s head with extreme care to avoid any additional trauma or discomfort
  • Positioning: Placing the baby on their back can help alleviate pressure on the affected area and encourage resolution of swelling
  • Symptomatic relief: Providing pain relief medications, if needed, or using cool compresses can offer comfort if the baby is experiencing mild discomfort
  • Phototherapy for jaundice: If bilirubin levels become elevated, resulting in jaundice, phototherapy, where a special light source helps break down excess bilirubin in the blood, might be necessary

Caput succedaneum as evidence of a difficult delivery

It is generally understood the condition arises due to prolonged pressure on the baby’s head during labor, which may indicate challenges encountered during the birthing process. A few ways caput succedaneum can be viewed as evidence of a difficult delivery include:

  • Prolonged labor
  • Use of delivery instruments
  • Positioning issues
  • Obstetric negligence

Can caput succedaneum occur as a result of medical malpractice?

Yes, caput succedaneum can potentially occur as a result of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice refers to the negligence or failure of healthcare professionals to provide an accepted standard of care, which leads to harm or injury to the patient.

In the case of caput succedaneum, medical malpractice may involve actions such as:

  • Excessive use of instruments
  • Failure to monitor fetal distress
  • Lack of timely interventions

What to do if you suspect your child’s birth injury is due to medical malpractice

If you suspect that your child’s birth injury is due to medical malpractice, it is vital to take the following steps:

  • Seek medical attention: Ensure your child receives appropriate medical care. Contact a trusted healthcare professional specializing in birth injuries and explain your concerns.
  • Consult with an attorney: Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who specializes in birth injuries as soon as possible. They will assess the details of your situation, inform you of the statute of limitations, and advise you on whether you have a viable case.
  • Gather documentation: Collect all relevant medical records, including prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal treatment records. These documents will serve as evidence during legal proceedings.
  • Obtain expert opinion: Your attorney may suggest seeking an expert opinion from a medical professional specializing in birth injuries. Their evaluation can help determine if there was negligence or substandard care involved.
  • File a complaint or lawsuit: If sufficient evidence supports medical malpractice, your attorney will guide you through filing a complaint or lawsuit against the responsible parties
  • Seek compensation for damages: Through legal action, seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, future treatment costs, pain and suffering endured by the child and family, emotional distress, loss of income if applicable, and potentially long-term consequences resulting from the birth injury

Remember that each case is unique. Consulting with an attorney will provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.

How can an experienced birth injury lawyer help?

An experienced birth injury lawyer can provide valuable assistance in several ways:

  • A birth injury lawyer will evaluate the details of your case, including medical records and expert opinions, to determine if there is a valid claim of medical malpractice
  • The attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth injury, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses as necessary
  • A knowledgeable lawyer will have access to a network of trusted medical experts who can provide insight and testimony to support your case
  • A skilled attorney will develop an effective legal strategy tailored to your situation. This involves negotiating with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit if settlement negotiations are unsuccessful.
  • Your birth injury lawyer will act as your advocate throughout the legal process, always representing your best interests. They will handle communication with opposing parties, navigate complex legal procedures, and work tirelessly to obtain fair compensation for you and your child’s injuries.
  • An experienced attorney understands how to value damages accurately based on both current and future expenses associated with the birth injury, ensuring that you pursue maximum compensation for losses incurred from medical negligence

Recoverable birth injury damages from medical malpractice

Recoverable birth injury damages resulting from medical malpractice can vary depending on the specifics of the case, jurisdiction, and applicable laws. However, they generally fall into economic damages and non-economic damages, which may include: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Home modifications and accommodations
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish

Contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Bachus & Schanker today

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If you suspect your newborn has caput succedaneum or other birth injuries caused due to the negligence, Bachus & Schanker can assist you in pursuing legal action against the responsible parties. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers provide personalized guidance and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Sources:

Caput Succedaneum: Newborn Conehead. (2021). 

CRS 13-80-102.5.

Medical Malpractice Legal FAQs. (2023).

Newborn Cephalohematoma: What It Is and Why It Can Happen During Birth. (2022).

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.