New parents need to be aware of baby flat head syndrome

August 13th, 2013by admin


smiling babyBaby flat head syndrome is a condition whereby an infant’s head becomes flattened. This normally happens during the first few months of life, and most often is caused by consistent pressure to the same part of the head.

Babies are now placed to sleep on their backs, which is the most common cause of the pressure. If the flat spot is located to one side of the head, it is called plagiocephaly, and if the flattening is across the entire back of the head, it is known as brachycephaly. It is also possible for an infant to have a combination of both plagiocephaly and brachycephaly.

The incidence of baby flat head syndrome continues to increase as shown by recent studies that indicate that close to 50% of infants who sleep on their backs may be affected. In most cases, this is a purely cosmetic condition. Depending on the severity, a child’s head shape may become more normal as they get older.

The most important thing that new parents can do to prevent head flattening in their infants is to educate themselves on what a normal head shape looks like, and how to recognize if their baby’s head is flattening. They should also learn more about the causes, prevention, and treatments for the condition. If the condition is caught early enough (the earlier the better, within the first 3 months is ideal), it can be corrected.

Young infants can be repositioned and do more tummy time to counteract the time spent on the back. If an infant gets older and the head shape is not improving (usually by the age of 5-7 months) and the condition is severe enough, a baby helmet can be used. Although expensive and not normally covered by insurance, a helmet is not invasive and the baby usually does not mind wearing it.

Parents and caregivers can find more information about preventing and treating baby flat head syndrome at babyflathead.org.

 

Photo: flickr.com/photos/bryangeek/3435206192




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