Standing Up for Victims of Caput Succedaneum in New York

Particular rough deliveries can result in mild bruising on the top of a newborn’s head. Referred to as a caput succedaneum, this condition is very common among newborns and can resolve itself on its own. However, when doctors fail to properly monitor a newborn’s condition, it can develop into jaundice and a serious form of brain damage called kernicterus. Dismissing a caput as minor can be a dangerous mistake, and doctors should be held accountable when their negligence causes a newborn’s injuries.

If your child suffered brain damage as a result of the negligent medical treatment of a caput succedaneum, we encourage you to reach out to our team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP. Our New York caput succedaneum lawyers have decades of experience investigating medical negligence and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for injured newborns and their families. We can sit down with you in a free consultation, listen to what happened to your child, and advocate for your family’s best interests. To speak to a compassionate legal team, call us at (212) 986-7353.

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What Is a Caput Succedaneum?

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 a loss of blood.

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Causes and Complications of Caput Succedaneum

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, ultrasound scans taken before the birth have shown babies with caput succedaneum in utero, which means a baby can be born with one or even more such swellings, if he or she is delivered by a 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 succedaneum 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 lead to complications in some babies if a doctor does not perform a detailed physical assessment. Caputs can be a sign of serious fractures in a newborn’s skull or a brain bleed, and doctors should thoroughly review a newborn’s symptoms to rule out more serious conditions. A caput can also lead to 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 a newborn's organs are just starting to function, his or her liver can take a few days to do that job, leading to a yellowed appearance to the whites of the eyes and in the skin of a pale baby.

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 suffering a serious side effect of jaundice: kernicterus.

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What Are Potential Dangers of Kernicterus?

Kernicterus is a serious medical condition that occurs when a newborn’s body is unable to break down bilirubin, which can impact a newborn’s development. Kernicterus can lead to widespread brain damage and cause a newborn to develop:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning disabilities
  • Hearing loss
  • Eye damage
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tooth and enamel damage

Kernicterus and jaundice are treatable when doctors respond quickly to a newborn’s condition and follow proper procedures. Dismissing kernicterus as a rarely occurring medical condition is no excuse for failing to perform a full physical assessment after birth, failing to test for bilirubin levels, or delaying in treating jaundice, such as with phototherapy. If a doctor committed medical negligence while treating your child for a caput, you may be able to file a birth injury claim for your child’s injuries.

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Why You Should File a Birth Injury Claim

Birth injuries are devastating and life altering for a young family. Instead of all the joys and experiences of a normal childhood, the family now faces a lifetime of intensive therapy and medical care, special-needs schools and/or helpers — and the enormous bills that go with those things. Such injuries are physically, emotionally, and financially difficult enough— but are made even worse with the knowledge that it should have been prevented with better care from the medical provider. Missed diagnoses, wrong diagnoses, and other medical mistakes aren't just careless; they amount to 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 and file a birth injury lawsuit.

Our experienced New York caput succedaneum attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, can provide the strong legal representation you need during this difficult time. For decades, we have represented newborns and their families who have suffered at the hands of negligent doctors. We've handled hundreds of birth injury and medical malpractice claims, and we're proud to be able to say that we've won millions of dollars 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.

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Get a Free Consultation with a NY Birth Injur Attorney

The costs of medical negligence should never be passed on to patients, much less to a growing family who just wants their child to have the best future. The impact of dismissing caput succedaneum as minor and commonplace can cause catastrophic injuries to a newborn. To recover the full costs of medical negligence, your family should trust your case to the dedicated team of New York birth injury lawyers.

Our legal team has served clients for more than five decades and recovered full compensation for their children’s injuries. We routinely work with experienced medical experts to evaluate our clients’ injuries and determine if negligence occurred. We also pay close attention to the financial and personal impact of a newborn’s injuries to ensure that his or her family receives the highest possible award from the claim. If your child suffered brain damage due to medical negligence, call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 today for a free evaluation of your case.

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Additional Information

Our Birth Injury Case Results

$10 Million - Suit Alleging Failure to Timely Perform C-Section

WRSMH attorney Philip Russotti obtained a $10 Million mediation settlement for failure to timely perform a Cesarean Section. The case was venued in Orange County, NY.

Philip Russotti

$6 Million - New York Birth Injury

WRSMH attorney, Phil Russotti, obtained a $6 million settlement for our client whose child suffered severe brain damage during birth.

Philip Russotti

$4.75 Million - New York Fetal Distress

We claimed that the baby should have been delivered by emergency C-Section or forceps delivery. He was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriparesis.


$3.9 Million - New York Birth Injury Case

Attorney Philip Russotti argued that as a result of this negligence, the child suffered hypoxia which resulted in mild retardation, severe ADHD and social isolation as well as difficulties with fine motor skills.

Philip Russotti

$1.3 Million - Infant-Plaintiff Suffered Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

WRSMH obtained a $1,300,000 jury verdict, after a three week medical malpractice trial in Staten Island, on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who suffered a brachial plexus injury known as Erb's palsy.


$1.08 Million - Injuries Sustained by Baby Girl at Birth

We claimed that the hospital was negligent for not intervening and performing a cesarean section in light of the mother's failure to adequately progress in labor.

Clifford Shapiro

Click here to see more NY Birth Injury Verdicts & Settlements