This website is intended for healthcare professionals.
Subscriber log in
Trial log in

Caput Succedaneum

Swelling of the scalp in a newborn. It is most often brought on by pressure from the uterus or vaginal wall during a vertex (head first) delivery. It is a soft, puffy swelling on the scalp, with possibly bruising or change of colour. A caput succedaneum is more likely to from during a long or hard delivery, and is more common after the membranes have broken, as the amniotic fluid no longer provides a cushion for the baby's head. It is most often seen on the portion of the head that presented first.



Features of caput succedaneum


  • Is present at birth
  • Does not usually enlarge
  • Can 'pit' on pressure
  • Can cross a suture line
  • Involves oedema that may move to the dependent area of the scalp
  • Usually resolves by 36 hours of life
  • Has no longer-term consequences

Ventouse extraction can also increase the chances of a caput succedaneum.

Further reading

Patient. (2015) Birth injuries to the baby (Professional reference). Available at:

Return to index