Few women describe the experience of childbirth as short and easy, but there are some deliveries that are especially difficult and hard. These can actually cause a myriad of health issues for the mother and the unborn baby. One of the most frequently seen is “caput succadaneum”. This is a swelling of the scalp of the baby and is usually due to pressures from the uterus and the vaginal walls during delivery.
However, it can also be caused when mechanical instruments such as forceps or vacuum extraction are used to deliver a baby. Such steps are often taken when a mother has been in labor for too long, but often the condition can arise simply because of too much pressure being used by the medical provider handling the tools.
Recognizing Caput Succadaneum Symptoms
It is a condition most often recognizable for the puffiness it creates beneath the skin of the infant’s scalp. If serious enough it can have the appearance of bruising and cause pronounced swelling of the entire scalp (including the suture lines).
Other caput succadaneum symptoms, in more serious cases, include jaundice, and this is when major problems can occur. Untreated jaundice may lead to Kernicterus (too much bilirubin that leads to brain damage) and so any caput succadaneum symptoms need to be addressed immediately.
The Seriousness of the Condition
The good news is that caput succadaneum symptoms are not really a cause for panic or alarm. Most medical teams notice it at once and will closely monitor the baby while in the hospital, and instruct parents on what to watch for at home. They will explain if or when any further action is needed as well, but most caput succadaneum symptoms resolve themselves within days of a baby’s birth.
If you are at all concerned, ask your physician to closely examine the baby’s head and condition before you leave the hospital, and he or she can alleviate your concerns.
Are Caput Succadaneum Symptoms a Legal Issue?
In general, it is not always possible for a medical expert to know whether a patient will have a long and difficult delivery or not. Most experts now discuss birth plans with patients well in advance of the child’s due date. Any conditions or concerns are reviewed at that time.
Because caput succedaneum can be detected using a prenatal ultrasound (as early as 31 weeks), it is easier than ever to take any steps possible to reduce risks. For example, many babies experience this condition if the amniotic sac has broken and there is no longer a cushion between their head and the birth canal. Sometimes, the membranes rupture long before delivery, and so the condition may begin prior to delivery or labor. Occasionally, if there is too little amniotic fluid, the condition can occur as well.
The abilities of modern medical teams to examine a baby for risks prior to delivery, ensures parents that they can make preparations around concerns. Is it a cause for a c-section? That is something that only a medical expert can say, because it is not described as a life-threatening concern, the answer is likely to be no.
However, the age of a mother, the risks of a lengthy or difficult birth, and the time between the rupture of the membranes and the actual delivery must all be taken into consideration. A child born with symptoms caput succadaneum will be examined and monitored, and should have a follow up exam shortly after going home. The condition itself is not a threat, but if jaundice develops it can cause harm or even lead to death, so don’t dismiss this issue altogether.