Caput succedaneum is an indistinct swelling of a newborn baby's scalp, caused by pressure on the head. It is one of the most common birth injuries. Unlike a cephalohematoma, caput succedaneum (sometimes just called caput) is a bruise directly under the scalp, rather than over the skull. It may be reddened or discolored, may be located anywhere on the scalp, and feels soft and spongy, not hard. It should disappear during the first few days of the baby's life, but complications may result from the loss of blood.
Birth injuries are devastating and life-altering for a young family. Instead of all the joys and trials of a normal childhood, the family must look forward to a lifetime of intensive therapy and medical care, special-needs schools or helpers -- and the enormous bills that go with those things. These are physically, emotionally and financially difficult enough as they are -- but they can be even worse when the injury could have been prevented by more care from medical professionals. Missed diagnoses, wrong diagnoses and other medical mistakes aren't just careless; they're medical malpractice. If you believe your child is the victim of a birth injury caused by medical malpractice, you have the right to hold the careless parties responsible for the results with a birth injury lawsuit.
The experienced NY birth injury attorneys of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP can help. For decades, we have represented victims of very serious injuries caused by other people's carelessness. We've handled hundreds of birth injury and medical malpractice claims, and we're proud to be able to say we've won millions for injured children and their families. We understand the complicated legal and medical issues surrounding birth injuries, and we promise aggressive, thorough representation of your claim in a court of law.
The most common cause of caput succedaneum is squeezing by the mother's cervix, uterus or vagina during a vaginal birth. The cervix in particular can have a tourniquet-like effect on the baby's head. However, ultrasounds taken before the birth have shown babies with caput succedaneum in utero, which means a baby can be born with one even if he or she is delivered by cesarean section. Risk factors for caput succedaneum include:
- Abnormally low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios)
- Difficult vaginal birth with baby head-first
- Vacuum extraction
- Water breaking too soon (premature rupture of membranes)
Caput succadeaneum should disappear completely within a few days, as the baby's body breaks down and reabsorbs the blood that fills the area. For that reason, most doctors will tell parents not to worry about them. However, a caput succedaneum can be complicated in some babies by jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia), a side effect of the blood loss. Blood contains a yellow substance called bilirubin, which the liver should clean out of the blood. Because newborns' organs are just starting to function, their livers can take a few days to do that job, leading to a yellowed appearance to the whites of their eyes and in the skin of pale babies. This is common, but a baby with jaundice should be watched very closely by doctors to ensure that it stops quickly. If it doesn't, the baby is at risk for serious side effects of jaundice, including brain damage, cerebral palsy and deafness.
If you or someone you love is a victim of caput injury, call a New York birth injury lawyer at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 for a free evaluation of your case.
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