Caput succedaneum is a condition in which a newborn’s scalp swells with internal bloody fluid after delivery because of the intense pressure put on the baby’s head while exiting the birth canal. Although caput succedaneum is not, in itself, a severe injury, it can increase an infant’s risk of developing certain conditions. Some of these conditions, like jaundice, can lead to severe complications that can leave a child permanently injured.
When an infant suffers from caput succedaneum because of a doctor’s preventable error, the infant and his or her parents can suffer a variety of damages. The parents can pursue financial compensation for these damages by filing a birth injury claim with the aid of an experienced birth injury lawyer.
What Causes Caput Succedaneum?
There are a few issues during pregnancy that can increase an infant’s chance of developing caput succedaneum during birth.
Pressure from the mother’s dilated cervix during delivery causes the newborn’s head to swell and become bruised. Swelling, bruising, and puffiness are three hallmark symptoms of caput succedaneum. When labor is long and difficult, prolonged pressure from the cervix continues to cause swelling, and the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor only increases the newborn’s risk of being born with caput succedaneum.
Another condition that can increase a newborns’ chance of suffering from caput succedaneum is a membrane rupture during an early stage of labor, which can happen when there is too much fluid in the amniotic sac.
Infants delivered head-first have a higher risk of developing caput succedaneum than infants delivered in other positions. Other risk factors that can increase a newborn’s chance of suffering from caput succedaneum at birth are:
- High birth weight;
- If the baby is the mother’s first child;
- The mother experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions; and
- The baby’s sex. Male babies are more likely to suffer from caput succedaneum than female babies.
Caput Succedaneum Treatment
In nearly all cases, no treatment is necessary when a newborn is diagnosed with caput succedaneum. In fact, attempting to drain the swollen scalp area can increase the infant’s chance of suffering adverse health effects, like infection. Usually, caput succedaneum resolves itself within two to three weeks. During these weeks, keep a close eye on your child and report any abnormal symptoms you observe to his or her doctor as soon as possible. Although caput succedaneum usually has no adverse health effects, it can lead to other conditions that can become dangerous for your child.
If your child developed an infection or another health condition because your doctor opted not to treat his or her caput succedaneum after birth, the doctor could be liable for your related damages. Similarly, if your child experiences a related health condition because your doctor failed to monitor him or her closely after birth because of the caput succedaneum, the doctor could be liable for your related damages.
Long-term Complications of Caput Succedaneum
Jaundice is a common condition associated with caput succedaneum. In the days and weeks following birth, be vigilant for jaundice symptoms like:
- Yellowing of your child’s skin and eyes; and
- Your child’s skin becoming yellow when you press on it lightly.
Left untreated, jaundice can cause your child to suffer a type of brain damage known as Kernicterus. Kernicterus can cause him or her to suffer from:
- Cerebral palsy;
- Hearing loss; and
- Poor tooth enamel development.
Other long-term complications related to caput succedaneum at birth are alopecia, scalp bumps, and skull fractures. In some cases, the soft bones in the infant’s skull lay over each other due to the pressure put on them during delivery, giving the newborn’s head a slight cone shape.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Birth Injury Damages
Seeing your newborn child with a bruised, swollen head can be an upsetting sight, especially when you know his or her condition could have been prevented if the doctor handling the birth had taken precautions to prevent injury, like ordering a Cesarean section. When caput succedaneum leads to other conditions that require substantial medical treatment, parents can suffer a variety of damages. These damages include:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages due to spending time aiding their child’s recovery;
- Pain and suffering;
- The child’s disfigurement; and
- Loss of quality of life.
You can pursue financial compensation for these damages through a birth injury claim. The most effective way to pursue a birth injury claim is to work with an experienced birth injury lawyer who can act as your advocate through the entire process. This includes helping you gather and use a sufficient amount of evidence to support your claim and negotiating with your doctor’s professional liability insurance provider to reach an appropriate settlement for your damages. In some circumstances, your lawyer’s job also includes filing a lawsuit and working with the court to resolve your case.
In Ontario, the statute of limitations for birth injury claims is two years from the date that you, the child’s parent, realized your child’s injury was due to medical negligence and that pursuing compensation through a birth injury claim is a valid option. However, this two-year limit does not start to toll until one of the following requirements is met:
- Your child turns 18; or
- A litigation guardian is appointed for him or her.
If your child is disabled by his or her injury, the statute of limitations does not begin to toll until the disability is gone, even if he or she is over 18.
Work with an Experienced Toronto Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child is suffering from caput succedaneum due to a healthcare provider’s error, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for your related damages through a birth injury claim. To learn more about your rights as the parent of an injured child and how you can move forward with this process, contact our team of Toronto birth injury lawyers at Preszler Law Firm today to set up your free legal consultation with us.