Caput succedaneum, swelling in the scalp of a newborn, is not physically impactful enough to harm the baby with its onset, but research has found that it can lead to potentially dangerous complications like jaundice — a result of the chemical bilirubin building up in one’s blood that occurs in 60 percent of babies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Severe, untreated jaundice can lead to a condition called kernicterus. This condition is a form of brain damage that may be triggered by bilirubin.
Kernicterus may lead to further complications like vision and hearing problems, as well as instances of athetoid cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. In this regard, caput succedaneum is not dangerous on its own, but even if caput succedaneum is not lethal its complications can greatly affect an infant’s ability to develop normally. This may also result in extensive and costly medical treatments at the expense of the victim’s family.
Some cases of caput succedaneum are the direct result of negligent medical malpractice during the birthing process, meaning the suffering and trauma a family has to go through may be unnecessary. This is especially true if the complications lead to lifelong disabilities like cerebral palsy. In these cases of medical malpractice, victims may be entitled to seek compensation to help pay for medical bills and address their overall pain and suffering.
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What are the Warning Signs of Jaundice in an Infant?
The most prominent warning sign for jaundice cases is the distinct yellowing of the skin that the build-up of bilirubin leads to, as well as other aesthetic abnormalities such as yellowing eyes. Even without the aide of a medical professional, parents can check for potential jaundice cases by bringing their baby into natural sunlight and pressing against the infant’s nose or forehead. If their skin turns yellow in the area that was touched, the child may be suffering from the disorder. Many hospitals will periodically check newborns for jaundice before they are released into their parent’s care, but it is possible that they may not utilize these practices.
Further warning signs of jaundice include:
- The child has difficulty being woken up
- The child is not putting on a normal amount of weight
- The child cries in a sharp tone
- The stomach, legs, eyes, or arms of the child appear yellow
- The child is not eating a normal amount
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What Symptoms Indicate Caput Succedaneum?
The symptoms of caput succedaneum may mimic a superficial injury, as it essentially appears to be a swollen bruise on the scalp of the infant. This means that the injured area may appear disfigured, discolored, or otherwise swollen in some way, possibly covering the entire upper head. Typically, the region that is first exposed during childbirth will be the most visibly affected, as the condition is often a result of headfirst births. Medical staff should be adequately trained to prevent difficult childbirths that may lead to caput succedaneum from occurring, so they could be held legally liable if the injury occurs when it may have otherwise been avoided.
What Causes Caput Succedaneum to Occur?
Cases of caput succedaneum have been found as early as 31 weeks into a pregnancy because the amniotic sac is no longer a protective cushion for the baby’s head, according to MedlinePlus. However, it more commonly occurs during difficult births, particularly when medical professionals are forced to use vacuum extraction. Botched births may be the direct fault of negligent medical staff.
Further causes for caput succedaneum may include:
- Inexperienced medical staff
- The baby being born in the wrong position
- The use of forceps during the delivery process
- Failure of hospital staff to prevent the condition after they were made aware of it
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Birth Injury Lawyers Representing Victims of Caput Succedaneum
The team from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group knows that parents may be wondering if caput succedaneum is dangerous because they only want the best for their newborn child. While the condition is not inherently dangerous on its own, some cases may have devastating effects on victims and their families if they lead to further complications such as jaundice and kernicterus. Medical staff may be responsible for a child’s injuries if their negligence led to not discovering the condition soon enough, or not responding once it has been discovered.
If you have a loved one born with caput succedaneum that was adversely affected in any way due to the actions or inactions of the medical staff attending to the birth, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your pain and suffering. To learn more about how the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help in a caput succedaneum injury case, call us at (800) 222-9529 for a free case review and consultation.