Is Caput Succedaneum?
“Caput succedaneum” refers
to swelling, or edema, of an infant’s scalp that appears as a lump or bump on
their head shortly after delivery. This condition is harmless and is due to
pressure put on the infant’s head during delivery. It doesn’t indicate damage
to the brain or the bones of the cranium. It can, however, lead to other
issues, such as jaundice.
Though caused by similar factors, this condition should not
be confused with cephalohematoma,
which refers to bleeding under the scalp.
Causes Caput Succedaneum?
Prolonged pressure from the dilated cervix or vaginal walls
on the baby’s head causes swelling, puffiness, and bruising. These are hallmark
symptoms of caput succedaneum. A long, difficult labor with a lot of pushing
can cause this condition. The use of vacuum suction or forceps also can
increase the risk of this type of swelling.
Scalp swelling may be more likely if the amniotic sac
membranes rupture early in labor. In some cases, if the membranes rupture very
early or if there’s too little fluid in the amniotic sac, the mother’s pelvic
bones will put pressure on the infant’s head. As a result, this kind of scalp
swelling may occur before labor and can be seen in utero on ultrasound.
Generally, the longer there’s a fluid cushion around the
infant, the lower the chances of scalp swelling.
What Are the Symptoms of Caput Succedaneum?
The main symptom of caput succedaneum is puffiness under the
skin of the scalp. The skin is swollen and soft. Pressing on it may result in a
dimple in the flesh. The swelling may be on one side or may extend over the
midline of the scalp. The effects are usually most apparent on the part of the
skull that was the first to come down the birth canal.
There may be some discoloration or bruising, but this is not
as extensive as in cephalohematoma. Once the swelling goes down, you may notice
that your baby’s head is slightly pointed, due to the pressure on the bones of
the head. This is called molding. This should go away over time. The bones of your
baby’s head aren’t fused and can move considerably without damage.
A physical exam of the newborn infant is all that’s
necessary for a diagnosis.
What Is the Treatment for Caput Succedaneum?
Caput succedaneum will clear up on its own within a few
days. Any efforts to drain the fluid from the scalp can lead to other issues such
What Are the Potential Complications of Caput Succedaneum?
The swelling and bruising may increase the risk of
infant jaundice, which is yellowing
of the skin due to excess bilirubin in the blood. According to the Mayo
Clinic, this should clear up without treatment within two to three weeks. Sometimes,
untreated jaundice can lead to serious health problems, so make sure your
child’s doctor addresses your concerns about jaundice.
If your child develops jaundice that doesn’t improve within
several weeks, contact your child’s doctor. Blood tests may be necessary to
determine the underlying cause of the jaundice.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
No treatment is necessary for this condition, and there
should be no long-term effects. The swelling should decrease within several
days, and the scalp should appear normal within days or weeks.
A large or swollen head is a normal symptom of this
condition. Your baby’s doctor will be able to diagnose their condition after
delivery and can monitor their condition to make sure there are no lasting