Discovering medical complications after delivering a baby is one of the most stressful things a parent can go through. One common birth injury in Georgia is caput succedaneum, or swelling of an infant’s scalp. 

While caput succedaneum isn’t always cause for major concern, rare cases can contribute to long-term health problems. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and potential causes can help you make the best medical decisions for your child — and seek justice when necessary.

Caput Succedaneum Causes

Caput succedaneum is characterized by the swelling of an infant’s scalp. It can be seen on either side of the head and is usually caused by vaginal or uterine pressure during a long or difficult birth. While caput succedaneum is generally discovered right after a challenging labor, it can also start when the fetus is just 31 weeks into development. 

While in utero, the fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid that is meant to protect their body as the parent moves around. Since their heads are not yet fully developed, the fluid plays a key role in preventing head injuries.

Some health conditions during pregnancy can cause the fluid to dissipate, such as hypertension or diabetes. One of the most common causes of caput succedaneum is low amniotic fluid prior to delivery, a condition called oligohydramnios

During prenatal ultrasounds, a medical provider should be able to identify this condition if it is happening before birth. Catching it early allows them to adequately monitor the mother and fetus to determine when an intervention is necessary. 

Signs and Symptoms of Caput Succedaneum

If the infant is still in utero, the doctor may be able to identify caput succedaneum by looking for swelling near the fetus’s head during an ultrasound. 

Once the baby is born, common signs of this condition include:

  • Visible puffiness or swelling of the scalp
  • Bruising and discoloration on the scalp
  • Soft spots on the head
  • Health problems like anemia or jaundice

Fortunately, most cases of caput succedaneum dissipate on their own within a matter of days or weeks. That said, it’s still important to identify the condition as early as possible to monitor the newborn for any health complications, which could cause long-term damage.

Caput Succedaneum Versus Other Birth Injuries

Unfortunately, caput succedaneum isn’t the only birth injury that can affect an infant’s head. Some other similar conditions include cephalohematoma, or accumulation of blood beneath the scalp, and subgaleal hematoma, or the accumulation of blood in the subgaleal space.

Caput succedaneum does not typically include any bleeding — external or internal. The other two conditions are typically caused by injuries at birth, either from excess pressure or trauma to the head. 

Is Caput Succedaneum Caused By Medical Malpractice?

For most infants, caput succedaneum is a minor injury that naturally occurs during a difficult delivery process and goes away on its own. In some situations, though, medical malpractice can contribute to swelling or subsequent health issues. 

Medical malpractice may be a factor if the doctor:

  • Failed to identify swelling during prenatal ultrasounds or following delivery
  • Misdiagnosed the condition and provided inadequate or inappropriate treatment
  • Did not sufficiently monitor the infant’s or parent’s condition after diagnosis
  • Took too long to determine whether a cesarean section delivery was necessary
  • Used a vacuum, forceps, or other tools to speed up the labor process

Particularly if the caput succedaneum led to more severe health problems, such as cerebral palsy or jaundice, the doctor may be held liable for damages to the parent and child in Georgia. 

Seeking Justice For a Birth Injury in Georgia

Navigating the aftermath of a birth injury is a frightening and emotionally draining process. Seeking justice will not only hold the responsible party accountable but also provide you with the means you need to handle additional stressors like medical bills or missed work. 

If you or your child is suffering as a result of a birth injury, an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney can help you file a claim and start the road to recovery.

Contact the Atlanta Birth Injury Law Firm of Malone Law for Help Today

If you or a close one have suffered from medical malpractice in Atlanta, GA, please call Malone Law at (770) 390-7550 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Malone Law

2 Ravinia Dr NE Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30346